Sue Mountstevens, Police & Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset, was in Wellington this week for a meet-the-public session held at the Iron Duke. There was a full house of local residents, with over 50 people turning out.
“It’s great to see so many people here. I’ve been told of real concerns about anti-social behaviour by young people, some drug-taking, and people want more officers and PCSOs. I get that. But we have 655 fewer officers than five years ago and we have to find another £12m in cuts in the next few years,” said Ms Mountstevens.
“I’m told there’s a bit of spike here in some crimes. Some of the things are aspects we can do to protect ourselves, which we’re not always great at. Locking cars and windows, for instance. We can do more and we’re all guilty.
“But on the plus side neighbourhood policing will be ring-fenced for the next two years. There will be no cuts in Avon and Somerset.”
On being asked why policing in Wellington is now managed from Williton, an unpopular change, the Commissioner was unapologetic. “It makes no difference where officers are based. Having mobile technology is what counts. What I want is for police officers and PCSOs not to be in police stations, where they are not accessible to the public. What’s really important is having enough officers and PCSOs. A building by itself is not going to do anything. Having officers on the streets is what is going to make the difference.
“So I want them to be out in the town, with their laptops and being able to work from coffee shops and places like that. We are recruiting 300 police officers this year and 70 PCSOs but having the increased council tax precept has given us confidence to sustain that level.”