A FORMER PCSO believes pressure should be taken off police when tackling town centre crime.

Matthew Grimwood, from Witham, was a PCSO in Brentwood from 2009 until redundancies were made last year.

He said traditional ‘Bobbies on the Beat’ were long gone and staffing levels are simply not high enough to cover everywhere.

He said: “I dealt with anything from anti-social behaviour to suicides.

“I covered the high street and mainly dealt with shoplifting, and I got lots of help from three fellow PCSOs.

“You could always do with more police on the streets but as the officers get tied up with so much paperwork it’s not possible, unless things change.

“Police are trying to focus on the anti-social behaviour side of things, which they should, but there are so many other agencies that could deal with things and take pressure off police.”

He thought local councils, mental health teams and social services could play a role.

He also defended the closure of police stations across the county.

He said: “The stations, apart from in the big towns, were hardly used.

“I know ours had 10 people on some days come to the front office.

“You can call or look on the internet for advice, so why the need to go into a station?”

He thought Witham residents generally feel safe, although he was not happy with the police cuts.

He said: “I’m not happy that PCSOs were cut because they built up a good reputation over the years and became established.

“I understand money needed to be saved, but why at the front line?

“I think officers that are in office roles could get back out on streets, be- cause certain office roles can be done by civilians.

“I think they should employ more front line officers and take away the stresses of dealing with files.”

He advised residents to join the local Neighbourhood Watch and sign up to receive Essex Community Messaging notifications from police.

He said: “People take things for granted and don’t think it could happen to them.

“Being a victim of crime is horrible and some never get over it but blaming police all the time is wrong, they cannot predict what people will do.

“Crime will always happen, it’s about reducing the risk of it happening to you or people you know.

“I know police officers care about their jobs and people they try to protect.”

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