Overton councillors angry at loss of beat officer

Basingstoke Gazette: PC Richard Baldwin PC Richard Baldwin

OVERTON councillors will complain to Hampshire Constabulary’s police chief after losing their beat officer.

As previously reported in The Gazette, PC Richard Baldwin was relocated to Highclere and Burghclere, having served the Overton area for almost a decade.

During his time serving the Overton beat, PC Baldwin oversaw a 50 per cent reduction in reported crime in the area.

But Overton parish councillors are now concerned that without a full-time dedicated police officer, crime could rise.

Speaking at the latest Overton Parish Council meeting, council chairman Councillor Tom Ridler said: “Richard worked pretty hard over the years, particularly to get lesser crimes down and it takes a long time to do that. If you let it creep back up it’s hard to force it down again. It’s wasted money to leave things too long.”

Hampshire Constabulary announced changes in its policing operations in February, which included cutting more than 500 posts.

As part of the announcement, Chief Superintendent Jason Hogg said: “Today’s neighbourhood police officers are too often called on to perform other tasks, taking them away from the communities that they serve for prolonged periods.

“This hardly helps us to build trust and so we will end this practice by making sure that they are there when communities need them.”

Chief Constable Andy Marsh also said that neighbourhood policing “will be prioritised with dedicated resou-rces.”

Referring to this, Cllr Ridler said: “He seems to be saying the things we would want to say about why we want our policeman back.

“Dedicated neighbourhood policing is a top level issue here. It seems we can completely agree with this strategy and then ask him to apply it to Overton.”

Councillors agreed to write a letter to Mr Marsh to highlight this.

Overton borough councillor Ian Tilbury said: “We need to let the police know because it’s taking the Mickey. They have taken our policeman away from the community he serves.”

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