We want to see police back on the beat, says councillor
- Credit: Archant
Trouble in the town’s showcase gardens demonstrates a failure of police priorities, a local councillor has claimed.
District councillor Cathy Gardner, of the East Devon Alliance, accused the Police and Crime Commissioner of prioritising online computer crime instead of ensuring a visible police presence around the town.
But the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, hit back saying tackling antisocial behaviour could not be done with ‘an old fashioned police force’.
Cllr Gardner was responding to a spate of anti-social behaviour in Connaught Gardens and also in Blackmore Gardens.
“I think this is a sign that police resources are not being put into the right place,” she said.
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“I can’t actually remember the last time I saw any kind of PCSO or policeman walking around.”
Last week, a local restaurant owner claimed Connaught Gardens had become a ‘no go area’ on Friday and Saturday evenings.
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Cllr Gardner added: “If you’ve got any kind of antisocial behaviour, it puts you off going out and walking around in the evening.
“And these gardens are so beautiful and so important for the town, we need to look after them.”
She said the Police and Crime Commissioner had told the council the priority was tackling online crime.
Cllr Gardner said: “For most of the people in our part of East Devon, this really isn’t a major issue. What they want to see is a police presence along the seafront, in the gardens and particularly in the evenings.”
But Alison Hernandez said: “The changing nature of crime means people are now 10 times more likely to be a victim of fraud and computer misuse than a victim of theft from the person. Those aged 65 or over are particularly vulnerable.
“So effective policing in the 21st century means we have to protect people in the virtual world, although that certainly shouldn’t be at the expense of protecting them in the physical world.”
She urged councillors to volunteer for the ‘councillor advocate’ scheme aimed at getting them better connected with their local police force.
At present there is no councillor advocate for Sidmouth. She said they could also apply for funding from the police and crime commissioner’s antisocial behaviour fund. Last year the office handed out £2.7million.