Essex

Writtle Parish Council employs private security firm

Writtle green
Image caption The private security firm has been patrolling the village of Writtle for two months

A village is spending thousands of pounds on private security to keep its residents safe.

Writtle Parish Council in Essex has paid S-Type Security almost £2,000 to police the village and tackle "minor crime" since July.

Council chairman Chris Hibbitt said the two-month trial, which ends on Tuesday, may be extended.

Essex Police has criticised the move and said it will "raise concerns" at a meeting with the council this week.

Security guards have been employed to patrol the village three times a day, between 16:00 and 23:50.

Chris Hibbitt, chairman of Writtle Parish Council, said the decision was made to use them because the police presence in the area "is zero".

He said: "We used to have PCSOs patrolling the village but they disappeared and we asked for a constable but were told we couldn't have one."

Image caption The children's playground in Paradise Road is one of the areas that has been affected by anti-social behaviour

Mr Hibbitt said he thought the police were "worried we're perhaps doing their job for them" but residents had been pleased to see the council take action to stop anti-social behaviour and drug offences.

He explained: "We had a number of letters and emails from parishioners who said the facilities we are providing, such as the children's playground, were no longer being used by children because gangs of teenagers were pushing them off and making them feel unwelcome.

"In one instance, they even stole one of the kids' wristwatches. It was getting totally out of hand.

"Since we've had the patrols, children have been able to use the facilities again.

"At the very least, this might make the police realise that everything isn't rosy."

Following the conclusion of the trial, S-Type Security will present a report to the council, which will decide whether it should continue.

Crime statistics show that Writtle, just outside Chelmsford, has averaged 32 crimes a month since the beginning of 2018.

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