COMMENT: Fighting crime is a job for the police, not council wardens

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Puzzling news from Portsmouth City Council about plans to recruit high street wardens to help maintain law and order.

Council leader Donna Jones says their main role will be to tackle anti-social behaviour and environmental crime such as fly-tipping.

On the one hand some will take reassurance from such an intervention.

Others will say: ‘Hang on, is that not the job of the police?’

The city council’s plan follows a plea from Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan.

In the wake of a spate of burglaries he wanted more action to be taken to clamp down on crime and protect businesses.

In a letter to Cllr Jones, he asked if more could be done to utilise the city’s expansive CCTV network to assist police in hunting for thieves and criminals.

Cllr Jones responded that the city regularly worked with police and routinely allowed the force access to its 142 public space cameras and five mobile cameras.

Beyond that, won’t the employment of these high-street wardens confuse the public, and, worse, tread on the toes of the police?

What legal standing will they have? How will they command the respect and co-operation of the public?

The plan was revealed a day after we reported that Hampshire police has cut the number of neighbourhood officers – PCs and PCSOs – by 182 from 516 to 334 in five years.

So is it really the job of the council to pick up the slack?

Policing should be left to the police. That is why we pay our council taxes.

Hampshire’s under-fire Police and Crime Commissioner Michael Lane needs to intervene and get this sorted out. Last week he was heavily criticised for making cuts to front-line policing while trying to increase the staffing budget for his own office. He was forced to draw back from that, and rightly so – we need real police doing the work of the police.

Not enthusiastic amateurs employed by the local council.