£250k private police force hired by council to protect public caught 'hiding down alley' on phones and smoking

Southend Council splashed out £250k of taxpayer cash on its community cops – but locals are furious after the snaps allegedly showed them slacking off.

CCTV caught three of the six community safety officers loitering in the alleyway and sitting down near a fire escape – with critics claiming this happens for up to 30 minutes at a time.

One man, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Southend Echo: “The council community team is non-existent on the High Street.

“If they are on a break, why three of them at the same time, in uniform and why not in their office away from the cold? This is a perceived waste of £250,000 of taxpayers’ money.”

Southend Cllr Mark Flewitt hit back at the criticism and said members of the public should be supporting his officers.

This is a perceived waste of £250,000 of taxpayers’ money.

He added that on the day of the snaps the community cops were responding to reports of children running over rooftops.

Cllr Flewitt said: “Cllr Mark Flewitt, cabinet member for public protection, said: “The community safety team offer a high visibility presence throughout the High Street and surrounding areas.

"This particular area just off the High Street can at times be a target for anti-social behaviour and officers often patrol there for that reason.

"On the day in question, officers were responding to reports of children running over rooftops and fire escapes. After scouring the area, including the rooftops, the team took the decision to wait there for a short period to see if the children returned.

"On the day in question, officers were responding to reports of children running over rooftops and fire escapes. After scouring the area, including the rooftops, the team took the decision to wait there for a short period to see if the children returned.

“Community safety officers are human beings. They are on patrol most of the day and are entitled to a well-earned break.

“I personally find it very disappointing that anyone would try to publicly shame a hard-working officer in this way.”




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