Sidmouth police cuts fears

POLICING levels in Sidmouth could erode from “a Rolls Royce standard to a Ford Cortina” as the force loses a fifth of its officers.

POLICING levels in Sidmouth could go from “a Rolls Royce standard to a Ford Cortina” as the force loses a fifth of its officers.

That was the fear concerned civic leaders last week aired over “huge” constabulary changes that will take effect in just three months.

Police Sergeant Andy Turner spoke for the first time how a mooted major re-vamp of Devon and Cornwall Police- set for May 20- will affect the town.

He said immediate changes will be “good news”, with more police on the streets, but he holds long-term concerns over the loss of 700 officers from the force’s 3,500 total.

The front office at Sidmouth police station will shut in the first week of May after its enquiry officer of 17 years, Debbie Hollamby, was successful in gaining voluntary redundancy.

PS Turner said Sidmouth’s valued PCSOs are not under threat and will become “the bedrock” of its neighbourhood policing.

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“These are huge changes, it’s going to be different,” he said.

“Long-term, we’re going from an exceptional service to one that is diminished by a lack of numbers.”

PS Turner added geographical areas of responsibility for the neighbourhood team may change.

The Sidmouth neighbourhood team leader said that, from May, policing would be organised into “three strands”- response, crime investigation and local policing.

He added a change in shift patterns would see more resources at peak demand times.

“We’re going to try and maintain levels of policing by doing things differently,” he said.

“There will be a massive difference of police on the street- putting officers back where they should be. It’s a good feeling.

“But, as time goes on, there will be less support and we’ll be fighting a rising tide.

“We’ve got an exceptional service. You can’t expect to have that with 700 less officers.

“This town deserves a Rolls Royce standard. If that ever fell short it would be a great disservice.”

PS Turner told Sidmouth Town Councillors last Monday: “People are going to be unhappy.”

“Oh dear” said a concerned Councillor David Barratt.

“We’re going from a Rolls Royce standard of service to a Ford Cortina.”

He added policing must be done with the “consent and support of the people” and said: “We must chase police to ensure we keep that Rolls Royce level.”

Councillor Peter Sullivan said on low town crime levels: “Thank goodness I live in Sidmouth. We don’t want to lose that.”