Buy a PCSO plea to Wisbech Town Council to help fight anti-social behaviour and public drinking
A former Wisbech councillor believes funding a police community support officer is the best way to tackle the town’s ongoing issues.
Dave Patrick submitted his case for sponsoring a PCSO to Wisbech Town Council’s Monday night meeting.
Mr Patrick, a former town and district councillor, said in a letter read out during the public open forum the move, which would cost around £38,000 a year according to his figures, would “benefit the people of Wisbech”.
He said: “Statistically, within Fenland’s four towns, Wisbech has the highest crime rate, with anti-social behaviour, street drinking, drugs and other issues. Many people come to town as a necessity rather than for pleasure.
“It is envisaged that with a higher level of policing, this may encourage local people to come to town more while feeling safer. Social media in particular highlights the problems within the town which, up to now, has barely been acknowledged.”
Mr Patrick, a taxi driver, was quick to point out that the town’s PCSO would work alongside existing policing and would be extra rather than a replacement for regular police and PCSOs.
He believes the move would provide more high visibility policing and would see the Public Space Protection Order – which aims to stop drinking in certain areas of the town including St Peter’s Gardens – more fully enforced.
The town’s PCSO would also tackle the ongoing problem of poor parking and would make members of the public feel safer overall.
Mr Patrick said he has done his homework on the proposal and said Wisbech would not be the first town council to sponsor a PCSO.
He said: “ Daventry Town Council undertook to sponsor a PCSO since April this year. I am advised by their clerk that the scheme is working well and providing positive benefits to the town and, further to their sponsorship, other parishes within Northampton are looking to sponsor or are in the process of sponsoring a PCSO, with smaller parishes looking to share the services.”
Mr Patrick argued following last year’s 34 per cent rise in the town council’s share of the Council Tax the “money can be found” for the sponsorship.
Mr Patrick said he has spoken to members of the public and “by far the majority” felt it was an idea that would benefit the town.
Councillors did not discuss the suggestion but did agree that town clerk, Terry Jordan, contact Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, to see if such a scheme could be feasible and, if so, how it would work.
Mr Jordan said the idea had been previously looked into informally but was not pursued after Mr Ablewhite said he could not guarantee the PCSO would always be available in the town centre.
“It was agreed to see whether or not this is feasible, how it might work, and whether or not the situation has now changed or whether the PCSO may be expected to perform other duties as part of operational policing.”
Mr Ablewhite said: "While I welcome the possibility of our local government partners working with us to deal with such issues as low level anti-social behaviour, and I am extremely supportive of such efforts, the long-term solution is not to simply shift the costs of policing to another tier of government.
"In Wisbech and across Fenland, we need to look at ways we can reduce demand together. For example, having followed the progress of the Civil Parking Enforcement in Cambridge City for some time, I believe that an expanded and enhanced devolution of parking enforcement, delivered across Cambridgeshire, could provide a solution which is of benefit to the public and frees up constabulary officers to further combat low-risk crime.
"I will always consider any community-led initiative, but I would want to first ensure that implementation is a viable possibility and that such a scheme would benefit the community in the long term."
Read moreHuman Interest
More by this authorSarah Cliss