Police pledge to put more officers in Axminster

PUBLISHED: 09:40 18 June 2008 | UPDATED: 21:56 15 June 2010

AXMINSTER'S policing area continues to be understaffed, with the town's station unmanned nearly half the time leading to fears of slower response times to emergencies.

AXMINSTER'S policing area continues to be understaffed, with the town's station unmanned nearly half the time - leading to fears of slower response times to emergencies.A month ago the Herald reported how PC Darren Herridge, Neighbourhood Beat Manager for Axminster, had admitted staffing shortages to town councillors during a public meeting.And, at this month's meeting of the council, he revealed there was no change to staffing levels.The shortfall means the station is left unmanned for 40 per cent of the time, with officers from Seaton and Honiton sometimes providing cover. However, the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary recently promised to 'recycle' more than 200 police posts - and an extra six officers are expected to be deployed to rural East Devon in the near future.Inspector Jim Gale told the Herald yesterday (Tuesday): "Axminster will benefit shortly from additional staff. "In terms of the present number of staff, it should be recognised that Axminster is not dealing with the same volume of crime as other areas. "It is a low crime area."While acknowledging staffing levels would affect response times, he felt it was the nature of the area and not necessarily a priority."The response time in a rural area is going to be different from that of a bigger town," he said. "But response time is a small part of what we deliver - other aspects, such as the quality of investigations and reassuring people they are safe at home - are equal, if not more important."Inspector Gale said that staffing was generally a challenge in rural East Devon and that Axminster should not be looked at in isolation.He pointed out that police have other resources they can call on in an emergency. He cited the recent fire at Webster's Garage in the town centre as an example of how they could be called on.But he accepted that, until new officers were put in place, there would be an increased workload for the current officers at Axminster."It's inevitable, with fewer officers, that there will be more responsibility for the remaining staff. But, at the same time, measures are in place to deal with it.


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