Com­mu­nity war­dens are ‘do­ing work of the po­lice’

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE -

Coun­cil­lors at Kent County Coun­cil (KCC) claim com­mu­nity war­dens are do­ing the work of the po­lice as of­fi­cers are not trusted by the pub­lic.

The head of com­mu­nity ser­vices at the author­ity, Cllr Mike Hill said KCC staff are tak­ing over some roles of law en­force­ment.

These trained coun­cil of­fi­cers are out in more than 100 com­mu­ni­ties, tasked with tack­ling anti-so­cial be­hav­iour like graf­fiti and fly tip­ping.

How­ever their roles have “evolved” to look out for res­i­dents, par­tic­u­larly those who are the most vul­ner­a­ble.

At a select com­mit­tee meet­ing ear­lier this month, Cllr Hill said: “War­dens can of­ten go where po­lice can’t.

“A com­mu­nity war­den in a rough area of Ash­ford within six weeks had won the trust of the lit­tle toe rags there. Those lads wouldn’t have gone any­where near the po­lice.”

Cllr Hill added: “Com­mu­nity war­dens’ roles have changed enor­mously since they started in 2002.

“It was ini­tially a low-level law and or­der en­force­ment ser­vice to as­sist the po­lice but we have evolved a lot since then, they have a very much stronger role to play in terms of com­mu­nity co­he­sion.

“They are the one per­son in that com­mu­nity that is paid as a job to help you and ev­ery­thing is their busi­ness.”

But Kent Po­lice say war­dens can­not re­place po­lice com­mu­nity sup­port of­fi­cers (PCSOs). It comes dur­ing one of the force’s big­gest re­cruit­ment drives as more than 200 ex­tra of­fi­cers are set to join its ranks.

Det Supt Susie Harper said: “Kent Po­lice is com­mit­ted to build­ing trust and con­fi­dence within com­mu­ni­ties and our of­fi­cers go to great lengths to en­gage with res­i­dents from all walks of life, in­clud­ing those who may be suf­fer­ing from so­cial iso­la­tion or are within hard-to-reach groups.

“Com­mu­nity war­dens also play a valu­able role, work­ing with us to help tackle low-level crime and anti-so­cial be­hav­iour. This ap­proach rep­re­sents part­ner­ship work­ing at its best.” A Lat­vian fruit packer racked up a string of driv­ing of­fences af­ter storm­ing off fol­low­ing a row with his girl­friend and tak­ing her fa­ther’s car.

At Maid­stone Mag­is­trates’ Court last week, An­dris Stick­ans pleaded guilty to drink-driv­ing, us­ing a car with­out in­surance, driv­ing a ve­hi­cle oth­er­wise than in ac­cor­dance with his li­cence and to tak­ing a mo­tor ve­hi­cle with­out con­sent.

All the charges re­lated to one night, Septem­ber 5, when it was said Stick­ens had a row with his girl­friend and left, tak­ing her fa­ther’s car Mit­subishi Colt with­out per­mis­sion.

Stick­ans, of Post­ley Road, Tovil, was said to have re­cently ar­rived in the UK.

He gave ev­i­dence via an in­ter­preter.

Stick­ans was fined and or­dered to pay court costs and a vic­tim sur­charge, which to­gether to­talled £583.

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