"Shadow" Police and Crime Commissioner vows to keep Ann Barnes in check
A FORMER police officer has criticised Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes's idea to invest in more PCSOs as a "waste of time".
Self appointed "shadow" Kent Police and Crime Commissioner David Cooper has pledged to scrutinise the work of Mrs Barnes, suggest improvements and take up people's complaints.
Mr Cooper, of Beltinge Road in Herne Bay, is a retired Met Police officer, lawyer and businessman, who spent six years policing the streets of Chelsea in the 1960s.
As well as sending questions and suggestions to Mrs Barnes, the 70-year-old has set up a website scrutinising her actions and offering help to those with complaints about policing in their area. The website, set up in November last year, gets 400 hits a month, he says.
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He said: "I thought the idea of a Police and Crime Commissioner was a very poor idea, but now that we have it I am putting forward alternative ways as to what might be done to improve the force in Kent. I see Mrs Barnes meeting members of the public but there is barely any mention of police officers in her plans."
Kent Police is cutting the number of officers by 500 in the next two years due to a 20 per cent budget cut. But Mrs Barnes said an increase in the police's council tax precept of just under two per cent would pay for 20 extra officers and 60 PCSOs.
Mr Cooper said: "We are told our council bill for the police will go up to fund 20 more Police Constables and 60 Police Community Support Officers but that is a drop in the ocean.
"PCSOs are a waste of time because they don't have policing powers and criminals know they have no authority to arrest them."
Mr Cooper wants to see a superintendent appointed to take up the fight against antisocial behaviour, which he says is "plaguing" rural villages.
He added: "I'm not interested in taking Mrs Barnes' job, in making money or attaching myself to any group. I'm an independent, retired police officer who's main aim is to help people and to keep Kent Police in check."