Low crime leaves Sidmouth ‘between rock and hard place’

Sergeant Andy Squires is now splitting his time between Sidmouth and Seaton. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 6983-28-13AW Sergeant Andy Squires is now splitting his time between Sidmouth and Seaton. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 6983-28-13AW

Sunday, August 24, 2014
1:00 PM

Town councilllors unhappy at sharing sergeant with Seaton

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COUNCILLORS unhappy that Sidmouth must share its police sergeant with Seaton have told force bosses the move contradicts a previous reassurance.

And town representatives say the parish is ‘between a rock and a hard place’ when it comes to cover because of its low crime figures.

Civic leaders are disgruntled that respected neighbourhood team leader Andy Squires is now splitting his time between the two coastal resorts because of cutbacks.

They had previously been reassured that there would be no reduction of police personnel in Sidmouth.

Town councillors have now penned a letter to the body responsible for distributing officers around Devon and Cornwall after hearing from the sector inspector for rural East Devon that funding is out of his control.

Inspector Simon Weare responded to original concerns voiced by members in June by telling them in a letter: “Devon and Cornwall Police, like all public sector organisations, has seen a large reduction in its funding and, as a result, has found it necessary to reduce its size in terms of officer numbers.

“The Chief Officer Group allocates the number of officers to each Local Policing Area (LPA) and, in turn, the LPA Commander allocates staff to each sector.

“Demand modelling has indicated that my sector, Rural East Devon, should have a maximum of two Neighbourhood Team Leaders (NTL). It is my responsibility, as sector inspector, to allocate those resources and, when taking a number of factors into account, I have decided the Sidmouth NTL will assume the additional responsibility for Seaton.

“We are where we are in terms of budgets and officer numbers, both of these areas are centrally driven and outside my personal sphere of influence. Both my NTLs work exceptionally hard and will continue to provide excellent service to the communities within which they work in spite of their additional responsibilities.”

Councillors were not satisfied when they discussed the matter at their August meeting.

“I’m not happy with the response we’ve had,” said Councillor Kelvin Dent. Cllr Ann Liverton added: “Although we welcome low crime figures – it’s not a massive help when we are asking for extra policing. We’re between a rock and a hard place.”

Reported crime in the parish in July dropped 52 per cent when compared to the same period last year.

In a letter to both Insp Weare and the Chief Officer Group, town clerk Christopher Holland has asked why the decision and response ‘appeared to conflict with the assurance, previously given to the town council, that there would be no reduction to policing numbers in Sidmouth’.

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