Concern over Felixstowe police patrols

Fears were voiced that Felixstowe could unfairly see a cut in patrolling police officers when a new project is brought in to deploy the force's manpower more effectively.

FELIXSTOWE: Fears were voiced that Felixstowe could unfairly see a cut in patrolling police officers when a new project is brought in to deploy the force's manpower more effectively.

Town and county councillor John Goodwin said many people would be worried officers would be sent to Ipswich, which was likely to have more crime and disorder problems, leaving the resort with just a Safer Neighbourhood Team, often under-strength.

He also expressed worries problems on the A14 - blocked 12 times a year on average - could prevent officers from reaching the coastal town to deal with emergencies.

“It doesn't take a genius to work out that most officers will be sent to where most of their custom is, Ipswich, which is our big fear,” he said.

Chief Constable Simon Ash though said the new system of briefing officers would ensure they were deployed at the right times to places where research over several years has shown they would be needed.

“We have profiled demand in Felixstowe and we know what times of the day and week officers will be needed and we are committed to doing the best we can to make sure we meet that demand and it would be ludicrous to say otherwise,” he told a public meeting at Orwell High School in Felixstowe last night .

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“I am as passionate about wanting to deliver a good service to the people of Felixstowe as they are in wanting it.

“We are pretty confident that when we have put the new project into place it will be a better service than we have now.”

Mr Ash said issues around the A14 had been closely looked at but he did not believe a closure situation would be an insurmountable problem - police officers could get through even if the public were prevented by an incident.

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer supported the changes, but was pleased they were being tested before being brought in and would be monitored, and hoped police would keep the public up to date with the effectiveness when they go live.

Are you concerned about changes to police patrols? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

FACTFILE: Project Response

At present officers are briefed at the start of their shifts at 23 police stations - in future this will take place at nine stations and officers will travel to those locations.

They will then be sent on patrol to towns and villages, numbers according to research on when incidents are likely to take place.

Research has found too many officers are on duty during the early hours to deal with too few incidents, and not enough during the busy 6pm to midnight period, which will now change.

When there is a 999 call, patrolling officers nearest to the scene will be mobilised to deal with it.

The project is being coupled with a new Crime Investigation Bureau which will gather details of crime by phone to cut out unnecessary visits, and appointments with victims to deal with non-urgent matters.

These two parts of the scheme are reckoned to have so far taken 20 per cent of the pressure off front line police officers.