Five missing police officers(November 18, 2008)
A town councillor who challenged the Warminster police inspector to justify spending tens of thousands of pounds on PCSOs was told that they are a great benefit, writes Paul Macdonald.
Police Inspector David Minty was attending his first full town council meeting last night (Monday) and promised more late patrols to tackle recent problems.
"We do seem to be suffering with some unsocial behaviour particularly car crime," explained Inspector Minty as he confirmed that there had now been 27 incidents recently.
"It does seem to be spreading out," the Inspector admitted to a question from Cllr. Humphries (Con). "I suspect it is people taking different routes home.
The incidents are occurring between 11pm and two or three in the morning.
"I suspect it is younger elements not people going home from licenced premises."
"There has been one town centre burglary," he added. "Pound land has been attacked. Businesses should be aware of late night break-ins particularly safes."
Mark Rawstrom, the police officer in charge of the neighbourhood policing teams, will now be stepping up late night patrols the town council were promised.
"Crime is down eight and a bit per cent. Violent crime is up ten per cent but detection is up," explained Inspector Minty briefly becoming a statistician.
This did not please Cllr. Nicklin (Con) who challenged the Inspector to say what he had done about replacing the five police officers that had been 'abstracted' from Warminster for duty elsewhere.
"I have not managed to replace them," answered Inspector Minty. "I think where we need to look is a force wide issue.
"Warminster is doing very well with the officers it has got. We are struggling to recruit officers."
He talked about the 30 year issue that had seen a massive recruitment on the back of substantial pay rises leading to a large number of retirements now.
He was positive that the reduction to the amount of paperwork his officers were having to do was helping.
There is a new mix of civilians and police working at Melksham custody centre.
Cllr. Nicklin was still not happy asking whether it was right to be spending over £17,000 recruiting each Police Community Support Officer wanting the money spent on police officers instead.
"I see a really great benefit of the PCSOs," replied Inspector Minty.
And to round his evening off Cllr. Field (Con) complained that 'the police buildings in Station Road are an eyesore' and wanted to know what he was going to do about it.
The Warminster Neighbourhood Policing Team holds regular 'consultation' mornings. The next one is being held at the town's police station enquiry office tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10am.
Town and rural PCSOs will be there.