10 June 2019
Heated exchanges over the lack of police on our streets have taken place between Police Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson and a Wiltshire councillor keen to take over the role.
Police revealed that while 87.4 per cent of staff within community policing teams (CPT) are currently working, just 70 per cent of the team are fit, available and fully trained to go out and respond to crimes in the community.
The force has admitted that more work needs to be done to increase the amount of officers ready to be deployed into the community to tackle crime.
Officers returning from sick leave, or carrying out desk roles are included in the high figures of those working for the force but not being deployed out to Wiltshire towns and villages.
Assistant chief constable Gavin Williamson said: “It’s absolutely not where we want it to be. We have brilliant response levels but we need to swing back towards improving our community policing presence.”
Speaking at the Police and Crime Panel, which looks into police performance, Cllr Jonathon Seed said that with fewer police in villages and town, people do not feel safe.
He added: “Wiltshire is a safe place but there is a matter of visibility and confidence. In Semington, people used to see their PCSO every week at a coffee morning but that minor contact is gone now and it is missed. Visibility helps build trust.”
Angus said: “That’s why we’ve closed stations, so officers can work in the community and they aren’t tied to a station. They’re out in the community but there’s an awful lot of community policing that doesn’t require a uniform because it is behind the scenes, tackling things like sexual exploitation or cyber crime. We can’t pay wages just to put people in uniform.”
Cllr Seed said: “You might just have to do that because sending an email to parish councils of what crime has been committed in their area last month is not giving people the confidence in policing.”
The force needs to have 75 per cent of officers ready to be deployed or there could led to its “basic policing function failing to perform effectively”, a report submitted to today’s police and crime panel in Trowbridge heard.
Wiltshire Police said it is working to increase the time police spend in communities ahead of summer.