Attack speeds up bobbies scheme

AN alleged assault on two special constables has sparked the acceleration of a �10,000 pioneering initiative launched in response to residents’ concerns about a lack of bobbies on the beat.

Uttlesford District Council has set aside funds to pay for the training of up to 10 special constables to be based in the district in an effort to reassure people that they are safe in the community.

It follows an incident in Saffron Walden on Monday which left one special constable with a broken ankle and another taken to hospital for treatment to a hand injury.

District councillor Robert Chambers, portfolio holder for finance, told the Reporter he was disgusted by what happened.

“I don’t think people will be put off becoming special constables because of this incident,” he said. “I believe it will have the opposite effect and think it will galvanize people to volunteer in a bid to make their community safer.

“One of my concerns, and it’s an issue that has been shared by many residents in the district, is that people like to see as many visible officers about as possible, particularly on a Friday and Saturday night.

“I think people like to have that reassurance of seeing somebody there who is trying to look out for their interests and prevent any crime from happening, particularly older people.”

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The training of each special constable will cost around �1,000 and will see them kitted out with the same gear as a police officer – including pepper spray, truncheon and body armour.

Each volunteer will go out with an officer over a two-month period before being sent on patrols with other special constables. They are expected to give four hours of their time a week.

Cllr Chambers said the idea of the scheme came about after the district council conducted a survey 18 months ago listed not enough bobbies on the beat at the top of residents’ concerns.

He added: “The whole idea is that with the police force making cutbacks we want to do our bit to help reduce crime in Uttlesford. We are putting our money where our mouth is to pay for the training on the condition that the special constables remain in the district unless there is an emergency.

“It is not something which has been done by any other councils in the county as I’m aware but I’m sure if all goes well it will be something they look to adopt.”

Insp Ian Gennery, who is responsible for neighbourhood policing across Essex, said the force was grateful for the council’s offer and confirmed that if it was successful they would hope to duplicate the scheme elsewhere in the county.

• A 15-year-old boy was charged with causing grievous bodily harm, causing actual bodily harm, assault by beating, handling stolen goods and breaching an interim Asbo following the attack. The teenager appeared at Colchester Youth Court on Wednesday. He was granted conditional bail to reappear at Harlow Youth Court on December 21.