Drug offences, violent crime, burglary and anti social behaviour should be the police’s focus of Haverhill’s inspector has said – not parking.
Inspector Peter Ferrie wants the focus of his officers to be on those issues rather than continuing to have to target illegal parking and use of Haverhill High Street.
The police have held four days of action whereby there was a visible presence issuing tickets and stopping people from illegally using and parking along the High Street, which is only open for blue badge holders and deliveries between 10am and 4pm.
Parking on the pavement is illegal for all, though blue badge holders can park on double yellow lines.
Driving down the High Street without a blue badge and when not loading or unloading is a criminal offence during pedestrianised hours.
A fortnight ago there were three burglaries in a week – up from the average of one.
Also, a 16 year old was robbed at knife point on the recreation ground on September 18.
“I have to stop burglary dwelling and if it’s going up then I have to direct my resources towards that,” said Insp Ferrie.
“If we have a robbery I need to find who committed that.
“That’s what the people of Haverhill I believe would really want me to concentrate on.
“My priorities are burglary dwelling, violent crime against the person, drug offences and anti social behaviour – they are the top four I want my officers to concentrate on and that’s what I try to get across to people when I say we only have so many officers and I need them to concentrate on these things.”
Dealing with illegal use of the High Street has been a priority for Haverhill’s Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) since June 2011, with the public continuing to vote for it at SNT priority-setting meetings.
“We will keep on issuing tickets and when we have the next SNT we will have issued more than when we had the last one.
“Whether that will make people happy I don’t know because it won’t solve the problem.
“We’ll still have plain clothes patrols and now we’ve done the days of action I’ll look with the town clerk (Will Austin), mayor (Pat Hanlon) and borough mayor (Tim Marks) at the results to see what difference they’ve made.”
Haverhill Town Council, St Edmundsbury Borough Council and the police are all in agreement that the best way forward is to pedestrianise the town centre with a barrier between 10am and 4pm on weekdays – as it is with Queen Street.
However, such plans have met with vehement opposition from town centre businesses.
“I would have thought pedestrianisation would make it nicer as the feel of Queen Street in the day is wonderful – you can walk safely from side to side without any problem at all, whereas on the High Street you’ve always got to keep in mind that there are vehicles coming down the street,” Insp Ferrie added.
“They do this in lots of big towns around the country and it works very well.
“I spoke to a delivery driver at a charity shop and he said if restrictions came into force all it would mean is that he just has to change his delivery times.
“I think it would be advantageous as if you have problems walking the last thing you want is problems crossing the street and a car coming towards you, so if you can cross safely it seems a much more attractive prospect.”
For all the latest news see Thursday’s (November 8) Echo.