Reassurances over town centre policing
CONCERNS that effective policing in Ashford town centre will suffer after long-serving PC Don Grant has been transferred to other duties have been strongly rejected.
It follows a switch in cover made to combat changing patterns of crime and the expansion of the retail area.
Ashford police spokeswoman Rosie Alexander said the move was a streamlining of resources and a reaction to changing challenges but that full cover would still be provided.
Insp Andrew Judd, added: “The town centre forms part of the Victoria ward and although we have redeployed one of the dedicated town centre officers, the ward is now covered by a dedicated team of two police officers and two Police Community Support Officers.
“One PCSO has responsibility to serve the retail establishments and surrounding areas of recreation and will be a constant visible presence in the town centre.
“We are aware of the welcome increase in the number of visitors now the new shopping centre is completed and this is reflected in the changes to the patrolling of the town.”
But not everybody is happy with the changes, including Jeremy Adby who lives in The Churchyard where residents have been plagued by vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
He said: “We have problems in the town centre and they have moved our best PC and replaced him with a PCSO.”
Ashford Town Centre Partnership co-ordinator Viv Kenny is also sad about the loss.
She said: “I am naturally disappointed that we have lost a dedicated officer to the town in PC Don Grant, and he will be very much missed.
“However, I am pleased that we now have a dedicated PCSO, with Helen Ingram to support town beat officer PC Mark Reast.
“Helen is already making important links with town businesses. I am also convinced that the presence of police officers and PCSOs, will continue to act as an important deterrent to shoplifting and other business crime.
“In the longer term we need to lobby the powers that be, to ensure business crime becomes part of the national crime statistics in the future.
“At present it is not, and therefore without statistics there will never be any justification to prove the value that town beat officers and dedicated PCSOs can bring.”
PC Don Grant on patrol in Ashford High Street
Picture: Martin Apps pd1441530