STREET marshals are a ‘smoke screen covering lack of policing’ say concerned Stratford residents.
Private contractor ‘Safe To Go’is being used by South Warwickshire Community Safety Partnership – a group which includes Stratford District Council and Warwickshire Police – to provide marshals around the town centre at night to free up officers elsewhere.
If the marshals – Who are from police and military backgrounds – spot a problem they use CCTV to flag down police.
The role of the team which can be identified by red high visibility waistcoats, includes patrolling in pairs between 10pm and 2am during busy times to identify potential incidents – paying particular attention to nightlife hotspots.
But residents said nightlife was not an issue in the town and drug dealing was a bigger problem.
Some locals took to social media to voice concerns about the use of marshals, which they claim will impact on safety.
One said: “The effect of more dealers is more victims which equals more crime which will impact on the tourists safety and the locals.
“Marshals will provide more eyes and ears but how will the couple of police officers we have action any of this and keep these marshals safe.
“It’s just smoke covering the real issue of a lack of policing.”
But Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said the marshals were not designed to replace police but to free them up to concentrate on ‘more serious matters’.
He added: “The marshals can also help to diffuse tensions before they escalate into issues that would require police intervention. The scheme is not new and has been operating successfully for a number of years at a fraction of the costs of a single uniformed police officer. To suggest that this is diverting funding from frontline policing is simply not true.
“I gave my commitment that all of the money raised through the recent increases to the council tax precept would be used for frontline policing and this is still very much the case.
“Warwickshire Police is advancing its plans to recruit into 50 officer posts across the county that would otherwise have been lost and we will begin to see these coming on stream later in the year.”