Resort to pay for street officers
By James HoreRESIDENTS in a seaside town have voted in favour of paying for their own police support officers to tackle a plague of petty crime and vandalism.
By James Hore
RESIDENTS in a seaside town have voted in favour of paying for their own police support officers to tackle a plague of petty crime and vandalism.
Frinton and Walton Town Council carried out a referendum after residents expressed anger at the way their town was being blighted by vandals and troublemakers.
Of more than 9,500 forms sent out to households in the area, more than 5,700 were returned from Frinton and nearby Walton on the Naze, Kirby-le-Soken, Kirby Cross, Holland-on-Sea and Great Holland.
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More than 58% of those who responded said they supported paying the precept on their Council Tax to fund the support officers.
The increase will be about 20p a week for the average band D homes - about £10 a year.
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Under the proposal, six officers would patrol the town and surrounding villages, providing a high-visibility presence and targeting areas that attract trouble, especially from teenagers.
Although they would not have the power to arrest people, the officers could take details of offences and act as witnesses if cases were to go to court.
If police bosses agree to the scheme, the support officers could be in place by June.
Frinton town councillor, Terry Allen, said the move was designed to ensure residents had a sense of well-being.
He added: “This will target the kind of issues that are not high on the police's priority list, things that cause people grief.
“It is about giving people a feeling of well-being and making sure people feel secure and safe.”
Mr Allen said it would also give police officers more time to deal with serious offences, but denied the move reflected badly on the force.
“We support the police and that is why we want to use their support officers and not a private security firm,” he added.
Mr Allen has met Essex Police Authority chairman Robert Chambers to discuss the plan.
Essex Police have also indicated they could be prepared to match the money put forward and supply additional officers to the area.