Criticism over off duty Sidmouth police
TOWN councillors will write to Devon and Cornwall police's Chief Constable expressing concerns over smoke and mirrors" statistics in crime and policing levels in the town.
TOWN councillors will write to Devon and Cornwall police's Chief Constable expressing concerns over "smoke and mirrors" statistics in crime and policing levels in the town.The council was concerned after hearing staffing statistics included police who were either on long term sick or unable to carry out frontline duties.Neighbourhood beat manager PC Steve Lemon told councillors that staffing levels needed addressing.Chairman, Councillor Tom Cox agreed strong messages should go to Chief Constable Stephen Otter about having good police cover for Sidmouth to ensure crime levels did not increase.Mr Otter had written to the council about putting 200 more officers on the streets and the extra cost to Council Tax payers.PC Lemon told The Herald: "I would welcome some of them. We need to get back to the staffing levels there used to be here, with 10 response officers in five sections of two and a neighbourhood team."He said Sidmouth currently had one pregnant officer unable to carry out frontline duties, one on long-term sick leave and another who had transferred to another force.Presenting crime figures for March, PC Lemon said there had been nine offences of violence, four more than in February, and 13 motor vehicle crimes, up six. House burglaries were down one to eight, shop burglaries down by half to one and a drop in crimes of theft down one to 10.Six offences of criminal damage, down one, were also reported.Councillor Ann Liverton questioned whether they accurately reflected the number of offences committed.She said: "I wonder how much people are not bothering to report. How much petty crime they are not bothering with?"People felt police did not respond to their calls so didn't bother, she added.Mrs Liverton felt Mr Otter was trying to justify the Council Tax rise and said: "I appreciate what the police do in the hours they are allowed to work and they have to be supported."We need to send him a message to say people need to report incidents and they need to be followed up. These petty crimes then move on to be worse crimes. I think low crime figures are smoke and mirrors.