Market town set to welcome new bobby

A MARKET town is set to welcome a bobby on the beat to crack down on anti-social behaviour thanks to a local authority's decision to spend thousands on paying the officer's salary.

A MARKET town is set to welcome a bobby on the beat to crack down on anti-social behaviour thanks to a local authority's decision to spend thousands on paying the officer's salary.

Stowmarket Town Council has voted to spend about £14,000 a year for two years towards the cost of employing a police community support officer (Pcso) in the community, who could be in place by the end of the year.

The move has been welcomed by councillors who see it as an opportunity to provide a greater police presence.

But some were also critical of Suffolk Constabulary for asking residents to pay for a service which they feel they deserve.

David Whybrow, town councillor, said: “No disrespect to the constabulary, but this is a wholly cynical attempt to push down the costs of policing.

“It is unfortunate that to be able to retain policing on our streets that we as residents expect and deserve, that it can't be funded centrally as policing really should be.

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“But this is nevertheless a great opportunity and people will like to see a visible presence, an officer who can be tasked to specific problems.”

Mr Whybrow hopes the Pcso can tackle anti-social issues, traffic problems such as parking on pavements on in disabled bays by able-bodied drivers, and engage with youngsters.

Anne Whybrow, town mayor and one of the community's county councillors, said: “This is an excellent opportunity but my concern is that if we match fund a Pcso, will we lose one we already have who will then be moved elsewhere.

“But is appears we have an opportunity to put an extra person on the beat in Stowmarket and make the force's presence felt more. We are supporting this.”

The funding for the Pcso will come from the existing budget and it is not anticipated that council tax will have to rise to cover the cost.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Constabulary said: “This Pcso will be an extra resource for Stowmarket. At present there are four within the town and this council-funded one will be a fifth.

“The Pcso will provide a visible presence in the town along with the others. We aim to have the officer starting as soon as possible.”

The initiative has also been taken up elsewhere in the county, including in Aldeburgh where crime rose 22 per cent in August compared with the previous year.

The cost to Suffolk police of providing a Pcso is £28,000, councils are match funding and giving about £14,000, although the salary the officer receives is lower.

Do you think it's a good idea? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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