Concerns over policing in Chard and Ilminster

Chard & Ilminster News: Concerns over policing in Chard and Ilminster Concerns over policing in Chard and Ilminster

CLOSING police stations and cutting the number of PCSOs in Chard and Ilminster were the main concerns raised with Avon and Somerset’s police crime commissioner during a recent visit.

Dozens of residents turned out for the public forum at the Guildhall in Chard to air their worries with Sue Mountstevens, John Long, acting chief constable, and Superintendent Geoff Wessell.

Ms Mountstevens said cuts had to be made due to a £15million reduction in their £270million budget in the next two years, and a further £50million cut in 2016/17.

She said: “We have to be more effective with how that money is being spent. No one is coming over the hill with a pot of money.”

Chard Police Station underwent a £400,000 revamp in 2009 to add a custody suite but under the plans, this building would be closed.

Ms Mountstevens said: “It is easy to say you want to keep Chard Police Station but then you also want officers so how are we going to get that?

“If people want more buildings there will be fewer staff, that is all there is to it.”

Ms Mountstevens said Somerset has more than half of the force’s total number of PCSOs.

She added: “I am acutely aware of how important the PCSOs are.

They have the time to listen and create relationships with local people when there is a crisis – I understand that is why we need them.”

Supt Wessell said: “It is good to hear that you value your PCSOs because that cannot be said across all the country.

“They are not leaving Somerset, we move our resources around. If we need to tweak it then we will.”

Cllr Ric Pallister, leader of South Somerset District Council, told the meeting that authorities are in “a shrinking world” having to cope with “huge financial cuts”, adding that co-location “made absolute sense”.

Other concerns raised included anti-social behaviour at Mintons in Chard, the powers of PCSO's, response times and attemps to curb speeding.

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