Village to hire private security guards

By Patrick LowmanA PARISH council has become the first in Suffolk to hire private security guards to patrol the streets of a village blighted by vandals and rowdy behaviour.

By Patrick Lowman

A PARISH council has become the first in Suffolk to hire private security guards to patrol the streets of a village blighted by vandals and rowdy behaviour.

Parish councillors in Glemsford voted to introduce the security guards after becoming fed-up with the amount of damage being caused in the village.

It will spend £4,000 on a trial period between and March and May, before deciding whether to employ a private security firm on a permanent basis.

The parish councillors claimed they have been forced into the move because of a low police presence and the lenient way young vandals have been dealt with when caught causing damage.

Some parish councils have praised Glemsford's stance and said they would consider similar action if the scheme was successful.

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But others have criticised the move, claiming it was a risky route to take and communities should instead campaign for a higher police presence.

A poll in Glemsford also found 133 residents opposed to the introduction of the security guards, with 73 in favour.

Parish clerk Sara Turner said: “We feel this is something we must try because there has been so much damage and we have run out of options.

“Police presence is low and when we have reported people, they have been let off lightly. This shows we are determined to beat the problems and we will not give up.

“At the most people will have to pay around £4 of their annual council tax bill to pay for the guards, but the amount we are having to spend repairing the damage is much higher.”

Parish councillors in Long Melford are now liasing with their colleagues in Glemsford to monitor the success of the trial.

Parish spokesman Linda Goodban said: “We are monitoring the situation closely to gauge its success.

“As a council, we respect Glemsford's commitment - they are putting across a positive message. This is a scheme we would consider if the problems got bad enough in Long Melford.”

Lavenham Parish Council discussed a similar scheme a few years ago, but the idea was thrown out.

Parish councillor John Kemp said: “Obviously Glemsford has its own reasons, but I certainly wouldn't like to see security guards in Lavenham.

“What we should be doing is trying to get a higher police presence, I don't think people should have to pay out any more.”

Babergh district councillor Joe Treacy, who represents Great Cornard, added: “I believe the security guards could incite youngsters and lead to more trouble.

“I think we should leave law and order to the professionals and that people in the community should do more to support the police by giving them information.

“I can't see what powers these guards have to stop vandalism when they can't make arrests.”

Inspector Stuart Hudson, of Suffolk police, said he was disappointed by the decision in Glemsford.

“I feel the current situation in Glemsford doesn't require this level of surveillance - statistics show crime is being reduced in the village,” he added.

“I will be introducing an additional community officer in Glemsford by April and, in an ideal world, I would like to be left alone to police the area with the tried and tested methods.”