Re­as­sur­ances over town cen­tre polic­ing

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News - by Mike Ben­nett mben­nett@thek­m­group.co.uk

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

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