Frinton & Walton residents invited to pay more for extra local police
Residents in Frinton and Walton could pay more for an expanded police presence in the face of national cuts, the towns’ mayor has suggested.
Private security firm AGS revealed this week that more than 300 people in Frinton pay £2 per week for its staff to patrol the streets between 7pm and 7am.
But Jack Robertson, chairman of Frinton and Walton Town Council, said if people were willing to pay because they felt unsafe the authority could explore paying for more Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
Currently the town council pays Essex Police for six PCSOs at a cost of just 43p per week to the tax payer – giving the two towns the same number of PCSOs as the force provides for the whole of Tendring.
Mr Robertson said: “If local people wanted more PCSOs then please let us know, we could provide that.
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“Thankfully we have our PCSOs because we would not want to be in the position other towns are finding themselves in.
“People can make their own minds up where they want to go, but if they have any troubles they still have to call the police.”
Mr Robertson added that other town councils in the area had approached Frinton and Walton for information as they explored paying for their own PSCOs, while Tiptree Parish Council – reported last week as considering paying for private security patrols – has now set aside £12,000 for next year’s budget to trial the initiative.
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Stephen Beardsley, head of AGS, insists his staff are not vigilantes.
He said: “We have no powers – no more than the average citizen’s arrest – but for us, we are about being a deterrent.
“We want to make our presence felt to deter people from doing what they are going out to do.”
He also praised the police, saying they did a “fantastic” job but were over-stretched.
An Essex Police spokesman said: “There will be fewer police and PCSOs on our streets going forward due to a cut to funding, but we are committed to maintaining grass roots policing.
“We will continue to patrol Frinton and send officers to where they can do most good, using intelligence to identify any emerging crime hot spots.”
The Frinton private security news came as a proposed new formula for allocating police funding was revealed by the government which would result in Essex Police gaining an extra £10-13million.
Changes put forward take into account population, deprivation and unemployment among other factors when dividing cash between forces, and would mean Essex Police may only have to cut £50m from its budget by 2020 – described by police and crime commissioner Nick Alston as “a cause for celebration”.
Mr Alston added: “Some forces are getting less but we are one of the biggest winners. We are one of the net gainers. I’m pleased that under the proposed new arrangements this has resulted in our share of available funding increasing.”