Exams, protests and vacancies are among the reasons why Warwickshire residents may have seen fewer police on the streets according to the county’s police and crime commissioner.
Questions over staffing levels were raised at the latest meeting of the Warwickshire police and crime panel [Jun 23] but Philip Seccombe insisted there had been no cuts to the workforce.
Speaking at the meeting, which was held at Warwickshire County Council’s Shire Hall, Cllr Dave Humphreys (Con, Coleshill South and Arley) said: “I sat in a meeting the other day where the north inspector said we had cut resources in the north because of the low crime rate.
"We have had one pcso and half an officer since last September.”
And Cllr Ray Jarvis, from North Warwickshire Borough Council, added: “In Atherstone we have one officer and one pcso.
"Being simplistic, there are 168 hours in a week and for three-quarters of the time there is no cover at all.
“We hear that numbers are being increased but certainly on the ground in our area that is not apparent and when you look a little deeper and the fear of crime, that is all part of it.”
Mr Seccombe refuted the claims, saying: “The absolute truth is that there is no cut in resources anywhere around the county. There are vacancies and that doesn’t mean to say that resources aren’t there to fill those vacancies.
“We have four safer neighbourhood teams in the borough of North Warwickshire and they haven’t been cut.
"I managed to persuade the previous chief constable to open a control base in Coleshill and my ambition is to also put one in at Atherstone.
“I suspect that the officer you were talking to was referring to bodies on the ground and that is affected by recruiting and people moving on.
"It is getting much more difficult to stabilise those safer neighbourhood teams.
“There are also a couple of reasons at this particular moment why there are not enough people in those teams. The first is that under the degree programme, this is the very worst for extractions because they are doing final exams or annual exams.
"The other is the operation at the Kingsbury oil terminal was significant - a 24-hour protection to keep it open was really labour intensive and quite a lot of teams like the rural crime teams and safer neighbourhood teams were reposted to do that.”