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Police on the move


A reorganisation of policing in Southwell means there are no emergency response officers based in the town.

Response officers covering Newark and Sherwood now begin and end their shifts at Newark or Ollerton.

Mr Brendan Haigh, the chairman of the Southwell Safer Neighbourhood Group, a community partnership that tackles crime and disorder, resigned on Monday in protest.

The changes came into force the following day.

Response officers respond to 999 and urgent calls.

They deal with emergencies as they happen and move quickly from job to job, leaving follow-up investigations to regular beat officers.

Members of the Safer Neighbourhood Group said they felt the decision to remove rapid response officers from Southwell was made behind their backs.

At a group meeting on Monday Mr Haigh said: “I find this an outrage.

“It effectively means the closure of Southwell Police Station if there is no response team based here.

“Ollerton is 11 miles away and this is in no way going to make residents feel safer in their homes.

“This Safer Neighbourhood Group was set up as a link between the police and the community so people could feel safer here.

“I think we have been treated with absolute disregard.”

Southwell town councillor Mr Roger Dobson said: “When I became a magistrate 15 years ago I was told that the system of justice was based on local communities, local people and on local police and it seems to me we are departing from one of the major policies in our judicial system.

“In these times when people are paying extra council tax — this year it was up 5% on policing — it is appalling that policing is being taken 11 miles away.

“However it is dressed up local people are going to feel bitter and feel ignored.

“This is a town of nearly 8,000 people and there are major issues here, perhaps not compared to Ollerton, but there are traffic issues, drug issues, anti-social behaviour issues and they require a bigger group of police.”

The chairman of the town council, Mrs Beryl Prentice, said: “The council worked very hard when it bought the Old Court House to work with the police and make sure there was police presence in our town and that has now been thrown back in our faces.”

Town councillor Mrs Mollie Toy said she was concerned about the message that not having a police presence would give to trouble-makers in the town.

Chief inspector Mark Holland, who commands the Newark and Sherwood response teams, said: “We are making the response more flexible for the whole area.

“Officers come on duty and go to where the problems are.

“There may be times when nobody is on in Southwell, but that has always been the case.”

Chief Inspector Holland said there were 14 response officers for Newark and Sherwood and there could be anywhere between one and eight response officers in Southwell depending on how many jobs there were in the area.

Before the changes one or two response officers signed on at Southwell and were sent to other areas if they were needed.

Southwell has four beat managers each working with three Police Community Support Officers. They cover two shifts between 8am and 10pm seven days a week.

The Southwell area police chief, Inspector Andy Gan, said they would still work from Southwell Police Station.

“Rapid response officers will sign on at Ollerton or Newark and come from there to patrol Southwell but coverage will stay the same,” he said.

A police statement said: “In the same way that Safer Neighbourhood Teams are dedicated to specific areas, we have now introduced geographic responsibility for response officers.

“Each response officer is assigned to an area and is encouraged to deal with calls to incidents on that area during their shift and spend as much time as possible on their area including meal breaks to develop local contacts within the community.”

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