Sergeant downplays claims policing in Sidmouth could ‘cease’ with cuts

Sergeant Andy Squires. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 6983-28-13AW

Sergeant Andy Squires. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 6983-28-13AW - Credit: Archant

Fears that community policing could ‘cease’ in Sidmouth if predicted budget cuts are realised have been downplayed by the town’s sergeant - who has assured residents the force is committed to its neighbourhood presence.

Devon and Cornwall faces losing 760 officers and all 360 PCSOs as a result of the Government’s comprehensive spending review.

The Police Federation has warned that a £54million cut would spell the end of community policing in Sidmouth, but Sgt Andy Squires insists it is still ‘very early days’ in the discussions.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg has made representations to Whitehall officials, while district chiefs have said they are ‘very willing’ to help maintain a visible police presence in East Devon.

The Devon and Cornwall Police Federation represents rank and file officers. Its chairman, Nigel Rabbits, said: “If the cut is as predicted, then neighbourhood policing in Devon and Cornwall will be substantially changed. “The Police Federation believe that, in reality, community policing will cease in Sidmouth.”

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Based on previous cuts, 1,300 jobs will be cut over the next five years, although the exact details of the comprehensive spending review will not be known until the end of the month. All 360 PCSOs would be lost. Four of these officers are stationed in Sidmouth, along with two police constables and Sgt Squires. He told the Herald: “From a local point of view, there are no plans to close Sidmouth police station.

“As a neighbourhood team leader, I have not been made aware of any plans to reduce the staff, because the majority of officers are neighbourhood officers and the chief constable is committed to neighbourhood policing.”

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And EDDC yesterday revealed it could help safeguard officer numbers, as it did a decade ago when it part-funded nine PCSOs.

Its chief executive officer, Mark Williams, said: “East Devon is one of the safest places to live in the country, but we understand that our residents need to be reassured by visible policing.

“If the police commissioner wishes to discuss funding issues with us, so we can look at how feasible it is, we are very willing to do so.”

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