Top cop under fire over police numbers
Bedfordshire’s chief of police came in for a grilling on Tuesday night over cuts to PCSOs in Luton.
Chief Constable Alf Hitchcock was questioned at a full council meeting over the diminished police presence in certain areas after updating members on latest crime figures.
Challney councillor Tom Shaw was the first to dive in, telling Mr Hitchcock: “You’re not going to be happy with this but I’m going to say it anyway.
“The north of Luton is suffering a 75 per cent cut to PCSOs.”
Councillor Shaw also accused Beds Police of operating a two-tier policing system in the Challney, Leagrave and Lewsey areas.
“By taking officers away you are taking away local knowledge,” he said. “That’s so important and it’s all gone now.”
Mr Hitchcock replied: “We have had some people who have left but we haven’t cut numbers. We are reviewing PCSOs but there’s has been no decision made.”
Councillor Shaw said he believed there were now just two PCSOs for Challney, Leagrave and Lewsey.
His concerns were echoed by Farley councillor Mahmood Hussain, who said: “I don’t think I’ve seen a PCSO in Farley Hill for about four months.
“There used to be communication between them and ourselves, they would come and have a cup of tea and we could pick up the phone and contact them if there was a problem.”
Mr Hitchcock said officer numbers in the town had been cut from 128 to 80 over the past two years due to budget cuts, but that officers were doing “their very best”.
Councillor Mohammed Ashraf warned: “No matter how much you restructure, it’s bound to have an impact on services.”
The police chief replied: “I believe we will see crime reduce over the next two years.
“If there were further cuts I think we would start to get into really difficult territory.”
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Weather for Luton
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 4 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west