Wensum, by Jim Harding, February 10, 2015

Police Community Support Officers on the beat in March. ENGNNL00120130205163435

Police Community Support Officers on the beat in March. ENGNNL00120130205163435

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I have a lot of time for our Police Community Support Officers who carry out invaluable work in all sorts of ways across the town and surrounding villages.

But I’m inclined to agree with the town council that it would be a step too far for local council tax payers to match fund them on a 50/50 basis.

This comes at the suggestion of Police and Crime Commissioner, Stephen Bett, who was elected to the new role last year.

It would mean a substantial rise in the council’s annual precept at a time when local authorities everywhere are being required to tighten their belts.

Interestingly, one of the district council’s cutbacks in 2014 was directed at the CCTV service which covered the major towns in north Norfolk. Four of them decided to dispense with the service for financial reasons while three, North Walsham, Fakenham and Sheringham, determined to retain the cameras for the good of their communities. In Fakenham’s case this took them into partnership with a new organisation and a considerable amount of work before the system was put back into full operation. All three towns, of course, have to foot the bill for this facility which the police have repeatedly agreed helps them in the daily fight against crime.

Former town council mayor Adrian Vertigan has been forthright with his views on the PCSO situation, declaring that they should be fully funded from the police budget. We shall see how other councils respond.

n Tomorrow evening I will be joining members of the Safer Neighbourhood Action Panel (SNAP) in helping to determine local police priorities for the next three months.

It’s a cooperative affair in which the agenda is really set by police officers who obviously have the greatest responsibility when it comes to policing the area.

They are far more aware of what is going on when it comes to law enforcement but sometimes can benefit from the input of outside observers. That’s where we come in.

Suggestions about priorities are made and discussions ensue. Ultimately, three choices are selected for attention – for instance, anti-social behaviour in a car park or particular village – which will be targeted with extra scrutiny.

At each SNAP get-together, there’s feedback about the previous three months. Sometimes a problem will not go away and it’s decided to give it further mileage. More often than not, the focus is switched.

It would be blinkered to consider this system as anywhere near perfect. But those of us who make up the panel really do care about our neighbourhoods and are prepared to speak out with the police when we feel something needs to be done.

In general terms, I reckon this kind of liaison just has to be a good thing.

n There’s been a late change to the movie selected by Fakenham Film Society for its monthly showing at the Hollywood cinema on Thursday.

It was to have been The Judge starring Robert Duvall but owing to booking issues with the film distributors this will not now be available.

Instead the choice for March has been brought forward in the shape of My Old Lady starring Kevin Kline, Maggie Smith and Kristin Scott Thomas. Members pay £5, non-members £7.50 and the action begins at 7.30pm.