THE future of four council funded police officers tasked with combating antisocial behaviour is hanging in the balance after an option to end the scheme was supported by half the members of a scrutiny committee.
Options on the £750,000 subsidised officers who are based permanently with town centre teams in Purfleet and Tilbury were finally discussed in public after previously being discussed behind closed doors.
Five options were debated by the cleaner, greener, safer overview and scrutiny committee on Monday which ranged from giving police a greater say over which town centres the officers are deployed to, keeping the contract, which ends next year the same, or ditching the scheme
Committee chairman Joycelyn Redsell, said: “I want to put it back in the police’s hands because we’re holding them back. They have to stay where we’ve put them and I think that’s wrong.
“If we don’t terminate this the police have got no control over where their officers should be. We’ve done our best with the four five years we’ve been doing it and it’s to give the resources back to The police should be able to use their own intelligence to send police where they think they should be.”
Ms Redsell added: “As an authority we shouldn’t really be paying police officers. It doesn’t sit well with me.
With all spending under review thanks to the council’s £469 million deficit, the team’s future could be up for discussion.
Steve Liddiard, Labour councillor for Tilbury St Chads, said: “Reading these papers it’s pretty clear that they think that most of the worst crime seems happen in Tilbury and Purfleet so in my view you put your resources where the crime is and where it needs to be allocated.
“My view is the local authority shouldn’t be funding police officers at all. The police authority should fund police officers. What’s going to be happening over the next few weeks and months is that they will be looking at funding and this is one area that it likely to be cut anyway.”
Ms Redsell, Conservative councillor for Little Thurrock Blackshots, Gary Byrne, Thurrock Independent councillor for The Homesteads and Maureen Pearce, Conservative councillor for Aveley and Uplands gave their support to ending the contract.
The three other committee members voted for one or more of the alternatives.
Their views will be considered by cabinet.