Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described controversial proposals to introduce private policing in Mansfield as a “terrible idea” during a visit to the area.
Mr Corbyn attended a Labour party members event at Annesley Woodhouse Working Men’s Club as part of a visit to Ashfield, and during an interview with your Chad he suggested that the introduction of private policing would “lose the sense of community cooperation you find with the police”.
Proposals for private policing in the town were first introduced in September, when it was revealed that Mansfield District Council is “exploring all avenues” to protect both the public and town centre businesses.
It came amid suggestions that there was a lack of resources available to the police to regularly patrol the town centre and reduce anti-social behaviour, leading to a fall in the rate of arrests.
However, Mr Corbyn said introducing a private firm to do the police’s job would make it “harder to deal with crime”.
He said: “I think introducing private policing is a very, very bad idea.
“Surely it is a fundamental of public services that you are able to keep people safe, and the purpose of our police is too fundamentally about that.
“The lack of resources in the police and in provision for PCSOs means that the country has lost around 20,000 uniformed police officers as well as a very large number of PCSOs.
“From what I hear over the country as well as from my own constituency is that when you lose a PCSO you lose that sense of cooperation with the police, and it makes it harder to deal with crime.
“We have said we would introduce 10,000 more officers on the streets and to re-fund PCSOs, and in turn this reduces the need for private policing altogether.”
Across the UK, private companies are already being hired to carry out regular patrols, as police cuts have led to a fall in the rate of arrests.
Firm TM Eye, run by former Scotland Yard detectives, has deployed “local bobbies” from Westminster to Essex, charging households between £50 and £200 a month.
However, the private policing firms have no powers to arrest criminals and act as a “deterrent” to people who may commit a crime in a town centre.
Councillor Mick Barton, Mansfield’s deputy mayor, told your Chad last month that any measure taken by the council will be made to “protect the public”.
He said: “The police and neighbourhood wardens are doing a good job, but we do realise they may be struggling with manpower.
“We’ve taken various steps in the past 18 months for the town centre, but there is still a lot more to do.
“We are more than aware that there are 500 businesses in the town centre that need the police and councils support.
“We have a duty to protect the public, and to protect businesses in town.”