Irate town councillors rounded on Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) this week as more details of the policing cuts in Haverhill emerged.
At their full council meeting on Monday, calls were made to have Tim Passmore ousted from his role as the PCC when the post next comes up for election in May.
The council also voted to invite Mr Passmore and Suffolk Police’s Temporary Chief Constable Gareth Wilson to talk to them about the cuts to policing that were announced last week and how they will impact on Haverhill.
During the meeting Cllr John Burns revealed that the number of PCSOs covering Haverhill and the Bury Rural South Division will drop from a total of eight to just five, one of whom is the match-funded PCSO based at Samuel Ward Academy, and that response officers will take over some of the PCSOs’ previous duties.
He also claimed that all PCSOs will have to reapply for their jobs and, should they get one, they will have to accept a £4,000 a year pay cut.
If they are made redundant, added Cllr Burns, PCSOs would only be entitled to a maximum redundancy payment of £8,000.
“To me it’s scandalous,” said Cllr Burns.
“PCSOs are the eyes and ears of the people, much more so than the response officers who often come down from Bury or somewhere like that.
“Generally I think the town council should send the strongest message possible to the chief constable and the PCC that it’s not acceptable.”
Cllr Tony Brown was also dismayed at the treatment of the PCSOs, saying: “I’m shocked to see how they’ve been kicked in the teeth.
“To have a £4,000 pay reduction is scandalous and to have them reapply for their own jobs is absolutely disgusting.”
Cllr Pat Hanlon expressed fears that the crime levels would rise in Haverhill once the number of PCSOs and officers are reduced.
Both Cllr Jason Crooks and Cllr Barry Robbins were fiercely critical of the decision to close the public desk at Haverhill Police station and of Mr Passmore’s role in the decision.
Cllr Crooks said: “Out of 15 stations that are closing, Haverhill is the fourth largest town in Suffolk and Tim Passmore decided to close it and that’s unacceptable.
“He is accountable and I suggest residents think long and hard where they put their cross next May. I would strongly suggest they don’t put their cross next to his name when they do vote next May.”
Cllr Robbins said: “We are one of the ones that have particular problems. We’ve got problems with drugs and people [illegal immigrants] rolling up at Culina and police helicopters up every week, and we are the ones facing the cuts.
“I think that Tim Passmore should be accountable and he is the one that should be ousted.”
During the meeting Cllr Burns went to say that under the Suffolk Local Policing Review, Sudbury and Haverhill will be merged to form one of the nine policing ‘locality’ areas in the county and that Haverhill’s local policing commander, Inspector Peter Ferrie, may not even be in post in a few months’ time once the restructure has been completed.
Cllr Tom Chivers also condemned any ideas that local councils should be called upon to help fund police services, saying: “The idea that central government is cutting funds to the police and that we should pick up the bill here is risible.
“I think we should oppose that entirely.
“Until we actually know what these cuts will mean in terms of police support in the community, we need to know and we need to let the public know, what these cuts are going to mean to bobbies on the beat effectively.”