Question mark over policing?

The future level of policing in Budleigh Salterton has been left with an uncertain future after a major shake up following budget cuts.

Neighbourhood Beat Manager for the Budleigh area, PC Simon Evans, has had his patch doubled in size to include villages such as Woodbury and Lympstone.

And, after 2013, town council taxpayers could be asked to contribute towards the cost of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).

PC Evans has said that the changes to his patch would have ‘very little noticeable difference’ to the prevention and detection of crime in Budleigh and he would be working alongside three PCSOs.

But, at Monday’s Exmouth Town Council meeting, Inspector Tony Comerford, the new sector chief for East Devon Coastal, said that, while funding from the Home Office for PCSOs was secure up until 2013, currently no arrangements had been made beyond that.

He said: “After that date, we may be able to retain all of the PCSOs, some of them or none of them. We just don’t know at this stage.”

Budleigh Salterton district councillor Steve Hall, a member of police liaison group Partners and Communities Together, said: “As far as police cover is concerned, I’m not overly worried that Simon will be stretched.

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“We have a great PCSO in the town (Chantelle Major) who really knows the area.

“But, if there is a chance that funding is cut, that would have a huge impact and it is an issue that really should be flagged up now.

“We should really start thinking now about how, as a community, we would be able to retain them and start thinking about alternative ways of funding, if the need arises.”

Town councillor Chris Kitson said: “2013 is two years away and a lot can happen.

“Chief Constable Steven Otter has said how much he values PCSOs – we have been served well by them.

“We need to monitor the situation and work with the police.

“And, if it requires that we need to use money from the precept, we would need to take a view on that at the appropriate time.”