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Xenophobia claim made in council police cuts debate

County Hall Norwich
County Hall Norwich

A county councillor was accused of xenophobia this week as calls for a review of Norfolk’s controversial policing reforms were rejected.

Labour’s Mike Sands attacked police and crime commissioner (PCC) Lorne Green during a debate on a motion calling for plans to make all the county’s PCSOs redundant to be scrapped.

Mr Sands claimed PCSOs were more noticeable in their communities than Mr Green and suggested his role could be abolished.

He added: “If our PCC disappeared back to Canada tomorrow, we wouldn’t notice the difference.”

But Conservative Bill Borrett said the comment was xenophobic, adding: “I find that rather distasteful.”

The Labour motion also called for the council to complete an impact assessment on the likely effect the loss of PCSOs would have on its services and for the government to provide extra funding to prevent redundancies.

However, council leader Cliff Jordan said it was not for the authority to intervene, because of the creation of the commissioner role.

Tory backbencher Rhodri Oliver also claimed it was about “publicity not policy.”

He asked: “Would it not be better to focus on the issues that our electorate sent us here to concentrate on?”

Meanwhile, police chiefs have rejected a union challenge to their plans as consultations on the measures continue.

As well as the county’s 150 PCSOs, 26 support staff also face redundancy under the measures. However, the force says it will recruit around 80 new front-line officers.

But Unison representatives have claimed the business case for the changes was flawed, as it did not represent a cost comparison between a PCSO and a beat manager PC.

The force says it used an average figure for PCs to justify the case.

Deputy chief constable Nick Dean said: “I can assure you that all figures have been carefully worked through with our finance department and the proposed model would deliver the budgetary savings required.

“While we were never going to reach a position of full agreement with regards to this specific challenge on the financial figures, I am content that the business case stands.”

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