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Matthew Hancock
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Public voting produces the wrong priorities, police chief claims

Tuesday, 10th September 2013.

Insp Peter Ferrie, the police commander in Haverhill, told the public they had voted for the wrong priorities at the end of last night’s Safer Neighbourhood Team public forum.

Inspector Ferrie admitted to being more frustrated than he had ever been by a public meeting, and planned to discuss changing the format of the quarterly meeting in future.

He felt a very important priority – dealing with ‘tramp-like’ drunk people sleeping rough on allotments in Haverhill – had been ignored by the meeting in favour of the old chestnut of illegal parking and speeding in the high street.

Insp Ferrie denied accusations that he was angry but admitted to being frustrated. "We have not got the priorities we need to have," he said.

The meeting sets three priorities for the police over the following three months, and they are currently chosen by a vote at the end, after competing issues have been teased out in smaller group discussions.

Over 30 people attended the meeting at Days Inn, which is significantly more than most other Safer Neighbourhood Teams in the county attract.

But they were not prepared to be persuaded by Inspector Ferrie to vote for the priorities he thought were most important.

Illegal high street parking and driving have been chosen several times by previous meetings to the despair of Inspector Ferrie and his predecessors as Haverhill commander, because they feel they cannot solve the problem or achieve anything significant.

In the past however many tickets they have issued, the problem has returned as soon as they stop, and Inspector Ferrie says he is not prepared for his officers to use up large amounts of their time ticketing motorists rather than chasing criminals or catching burglars.

He felt the issue of the allotments had the potential to escalate into something worse and was something police could effectively deal with.

In the end that only achieved ten votes, whereas speeding in High Street scored 23, pavement parking in High Street 21 and drinking alcohol on the Recreation Ground with associated anti-social behaviour in the Clements Drive, Clayhithe Drive and Bedford Court areas scored 21.

Other issues raised included street drinking, speeding in Cleves Road and anti-social behaviour by people drinking in the alcohol-free zone, in particular the railway walk, around Tesco and in St Mary's Churchyard.

Resident Brian Thomas raised the issue of lack of ambulances serving Haverhill but was told it was not the right forum for that.

But local councillor Maureen Byrne told him to speak to councillors afterwards, because they were also concerned about the issue and wanted to take it forward.

Haverhill Online News

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