Notts commissioner offers deal to thwart private policing plans

Nottinghamshire's Police & Crime Commissioner says communities can 'buy extra policing resources' from the force, countering offers from private firms to patrol the streets for a fee.

Thursday, 5th January 2017, 12:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th January 2017, 3:59 am
PCC Paddy Tipping says communities can 'buy extra policing resources' from Nottinghamshire's force.

The head of police policy Paddy Tipping is entering a bid to stamp out talks bringing in private policing to areas of Ashfield.

Both Selston and Huthwaite residents have entertained the idea of raising money locally to fund a private security firm to patrol their streets, and the Chad has so far encountered two firms trying to drum up business in the area.

Selston Parish has the power to incur a referendum on whether to raise its precept to draw in money to fund a private officer and the council intends to hold a public meeting to discuss the options for improving policing in the village.

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Residents in Huthwaite have raised the same idea of hiring in private help to counter issues of anti-social behaviour.

Councillor Lee Anderson said he was approached by constutents suggesting the idea, and so posed the question on Facebook if residents would be happy to pay £1 a week into a community pot to pay for a private patrol.

To counter the spreading fears that private forces are needed to fill gaps in policing, PCC Paddy Tipping is due to meet Selston Parish Councillors on Tuesday, January 10.

Mr Tipping said: "It seems to me that if Selston want to raise some money through the parish precept why don't they buy extra resources from Nottinghamshire police rather than going to the private sector.

"What I'm offering is another PCSO, and I would extend the same offer to Huthwaite. If they raise some money, I would find some money and they would be part of the policing team."

The benefit the police force can offer is that a PCSO would be part of the local policing team, whereas private teams would be on their own.

"They're not part of the police, so if they come across a problem and they need help, they would call the police anyway."

Costs for a dedicated officer paid for out of the parish council precept would cost in the region of £40,0000 a year for wages and uniform - and if Selston can raise £20,000 "there is an argument for me and the police to find the other half."

Mr Tipping added: "I'm really keen that people pay more towards the police, because of the cap the government puts on the police and councils means we can only raise income by two per cent - that brings in £1.2m a year but we're facing grant cuts next year of £4m pounds.

When asked how communities have reached a situation where they're considering buying in policing resources, he added: "It's because of the past four years, the grant from government has come down by £54m. More than 70 per cent of our income comes from these government grants, and only 30 per cent form the local area.

The police has the power to authorise outside firms to give their officers extra powers beyond citizens arrest.

"But no such firms have been authorised in Nottinghamshire, and I don't believe it will happen in the future," added the PCC. "The police are there to provide policing rather than private security firms. The history is that many of these company's are quite shady. Over the years many of these firms have come and gone."

But what would happen if every community in the county demanded the same deal to go halves on a PCSO.

"If all the county decided to do it I'd be in trouble, but persuading them to pay a bit more for policing is is a good thing so I'm supportive of the Parish Council for putting their element of the council tax up to fund police resources."

Selston Parish Councillor Gail Turner, who first alerted the Chad to the council's intention of considering private policing, said members have taken a great deal of criticism over the call to consider options.

She said: "In march last year people came to the Parish council meeting in distress because of the levels of anti-social behaviour and violence on the street, and they were in dispair. They had no joy form the police so they came to us and they said what are you going to do about this. We explored the avenues and were explored private security. This is a massive decision and we said we would engage in the public."

The council has not got to the stage of holding a referendum yet, and public discourse is required to discuss the various options and how residents would like to approach the issue.

"Do they want us to push for more PCSOs? Do they want us to push police to get back some of our precept? Do they want us to go to Ashfield for more CPSs, or to a private company. These are the options and we haven't yet discussed this with the public."

On the PCC's offer to buy more policing from the force, she said: "If we had extra PCSOs we have to question will he take them off us. We'll be paying for them but if they won't necessarily be in Selston all the time. These things need looking at."