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Police cuts ‘fraught with danger’ and could raise fear and risk of crime in Felixstowe

PUBLISHED: 11:00 28 January 2016

Community leaders have launched a campaign to keep a front line police response team based in Felixstowe amid worries that cuts could increase the risk of crime and public anxiety.

Town councillors say the proposal is “fraught with danger” and could impact on 999 response times.

Suffolk Constabulary plans to axe 68 PCSO posts, reduce civilian staff, remove some Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNT) and close police stations as part of a range of service changes to slash £20.5million from its budget by 2020.

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore has denied the changes will have a significant impact on the public and said the review would bring a better distribution of the police’s workload with SNTs still at the core of the community.

At Felixstowe, the changes also include removal of the resort’s response team, which when not responding to 999 calls, investigates a crime and provides a visible presence around town.

Town councillors believe having the unit based in Martlesham will mean less time spent in Felixstowe.

They cite the need for officers to deal with paperwork, take part in training, intelligence submissions, the difficulties of vehicle handovers and ensuring staff are best used at shift overlaps, plus problems with officers missing through sickness, annual leave, and court appearances.

In a letter to Mr Passmore the council said the proposed changes “will result in a significant reduction in the visibility of local police staff” and it believed this “will increase both risk and public concern and thus reduce levels of trust and confidence”.

The council pointed out that a similar project to remove response staff some years ago failed and was reversed.

The letter said: “This new plan has many similarities but is in fact in the opinion of this council even more likely to fail.

“This council believes the removal of the response base in Felixstowe is fraught with danger. It will significantly reduce the proactive patrol capacity within the town, it will significantly reduce the visible police presence, it will negatively impact on people’s concerns and anxieties and it will raise the level of risk in respect of meeting response times.”

Councillor Steve Gallant, a former Felixstowe police chief, said: “My belief is that people are not going to feel safe because they are not seeing a uniformed presence around the town. If we have a response hub here in the town it will not cost the constabulary any extra money.”

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