Row erupts over plan for private policing in Selston

Selston Parish Councillor Dawn Justice.
Selston Parish Councillor Dawn Justice.

A row has erupted over plans for a referendum on whether the public is prepared to pay for private policing in the parish of Selston.

In October Selston parish councillors voted to approve plans for a referendum on plans to employ a private security firm after concerns there were not enough police deployed in the rural district.

But councillors have now voted in favour of a resolution calling for the referendum to be put on ice saying they have not had any information about what security firms have been approached, what they would actually do and what the final cost would be to council taxpayers.

Independent councillor Dawn Justice has accused members of the Selston Parish Independents party - who propose the referendum - of asking people to sign a “blank cheque”.

Coun Justice said; “I am concerned residents will be getting a raw deal with security.

“We don’t know who the security firm is. We have had no quotes presented to us - normally we would have to have three quotes presented to the parish council and we would decide which one was the most beneficial before going forward. “You need to know what is on offer before you can ask parishioners to vote.

“The council is against this with quite a large majority.”

The council is planning a parish meeting on December 12 and if the majority of people who attend vote in favour of the poll it will probably be presented to residents in January.

The Selston Parish Independent group has organised three public information evenings for residents to discuss the issue. They will be held at Underwood Community Centre on December 5 at 7.30pm, Jacksdale Community Centre on December 6 at 7pm and at the old council offices on December 7 at 7pm.

Council chairman coun Robert Sears Piccavey said the purpose of the referendum was to establish the principle of whether parishioners would be prepared to spend more on their precept and the final details would then be decided by the council. He estimates the cost at about £25 a year, or about 7p a day.

Coun Sears Piccavey said; “There is no police cover in the rural areas.

“We have had two meetings with Paddy Tipping and he has made an offer that if we raise £40,000 we can have an extra PCSO for that.

“He said he would match fund it and give us two for the price of one which sounds fantastic.”

However he said the officers were not guaranteed to be permanently on patrol in the area.

He said Inspector Glen Longden, who is in charge of the operational side of the policing in the district had told him if he needed the PCSOs he would take them to wherever he needed them.

He said: “I would be asking the people of Selston to pay extra for something we are not guaranteed to keep, because they could be elsewhere in Hucknall, Sutton, Kirkby, these conurbations where the police have to focus their funding and their resources to get the best value for money .

“I understand the police problem, all I am saying is that we are being totally neglected in the rurals. We pay almost £1 million for police.

“We have one PCSO not two.

He said crime in Selston was mainly anti social behaviour through the result of drug taking and amphetamine abuse.

He added: “This does make life very miserable for a lot of people.

“A security force would make a difference in that when there is anti social behaviour they could go there, triage the situuation . Sometimes it just needs somebody there to disperse the situation or to even talk to them anc calm things down.”

Coun Sears Piccavey said he was considering four security officers.

He added: “They only have the powers to detain, but they would have body cameras with face recognition technology so they would be picking up a lot of intelligence for the police.

“There is only one other council at the moment doing it, Tiptree. We’re at the early stages of this going out nationwide

There are more police cuts in the pipeline.

Police and Crime Commisioner paddy Tipping said the private security firm wa sa matter fro the parish council

He said: “In Selston crime is actually going down. There are two PCSOs in the area. I’ve already talked to the parish council. If they want to raise some extra money - and it’s a matter for them, the police will be more than happy to talk with them about putting extra resources for that money into the Selston- Jacksdale area.

“They are being consulted at the moment. The figures they are being quoted seem quite high to me.

He added: I’m waiting to be invited to the next parish council meeting so we can take these discussions forward.”