'It's not two cop town'

FEARS Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth's policing levels are at the lowest level ever have been dispelled by the town's police chief.

FEARS Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth's policing levels are at the lowest level ever have been dispelled by the town's police chief.A police insider claimed Exmouth had been policed by just one sergeant and one officer on several occasions this week - when the town should have been served by a minimum of three officers and a sergeantInspector Jez Capey's reassurance comes after a Devon and Cornwall HQ police source this week told the Journal Exmouth Police Station was being forced to juggle figures to make it appear the town has more frontline officers on the beat.Inspector Capey said Exmouth had been over-staffed and its surplus police officers had been moved to create the community-based Partners and Communities Together team (PACT).He said the town's frontline policing levels remained the same - 23 constables - after the creation of the PACT team. Inspector Capey said: "We haven't lost out. We have more bums on seats. We have benefited - we now have an investigating team. We have two extra officers and new civilian officers on the books. "We were over established in Exmouth - they have been allocated to the PACT team. It appears they have been moved from the frontline. We haven't necessarily had extra officers allocated to patrol, but we do have the PACT team working out of Exmouth. "We have a sergeant and five extra officers working out of Exmouth - not to deal with solely Exmouth issues - but I hope we will get more than our fair share of their time."The Journal's whistle-blower said Exmouth's frontline officers had been taken off the beat, shuffled around to create the newly-formed PACT teams, while other officers were being drafted in to fill in the gaps. The source said the town's youth officer's desk had been moved into the neighbourhood beat team office - which, statistically on paper, would be deemed as 'frontline', although the job description remained the same.The police source said rookie officers were being allocated to the town - before they had completed their training - in a desperate attempt to fulfil police chief Stephen Otter's bid to get an extra 200 officers on the beat.The insider told the Journal: "Exmouth has the lowest number of staff it's ever had."The chief is determined to get 200 officers back on the beat and has had to allocate staff to Exmouth who are still in training - but they won't be joining the station until October."People don't usually get allocated to a station until they have finished training. But to keep in line with the 200 on the beat, he's had to allocate staff who won't be in Exmouth for another six months."The youth officer has moved offices to the neighbourhood beat team where he's classed as frontline - but he's doing the same job as before. But, on paper, he's now classed as frontline."It's playing with figures so it looks like they have got more people on the streets. It's a dirty trick."Lots of officers don't think Exmouth will cope with the number of people who come in the summer and the number of staff to police it.