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Fury grows at police cuts
FAMILIES who have lost loved ones have hit out after it was claimed declining numbers of police officers means rural north Essex is no longer patrolled.
A police source claims combining traffic police with response teams has meant towns and villages, particularly in Tendring district, are missing out on traffic patrols.
Street safety campaigner Neil Blackburn, whose daughter Charlotte died three years ago after being hit in Dovercourt, believes more motorists will break the law if there is no chance of being caught.
The source claimed: “As there are no longer enough officers to go round, officers are banned from routinely patrolling Clacton, Harwich, Manningtree and all the surrounding villages.
“So, as we enter the summer drink-drive period and the bank holidays, there will be no traffic policing at all in Tendring.”
He added traffic officers spend most of their time dealing with other incidents.
The source said: “Traffic police do not get nearly as much time to target offenders. This includes not only giving tickets, but stopping criminals using the road network.”
Essex Police admitted the number of tickets issued had dropped in the first months since the change, but claimed levels were back to normal now.
Traffic units were combined with response patrols in March as part of £42million cuts by Essex Police .
The nearest combined hubs are based in Stanway and Dunmow, and critics claim they no longer patrol the outlying parts of the county.
Charlotte Blackburn was killed by a driver who had been drinking while taking medication.
Mr Blackburn, of Fronks Road, Dovercourt, said: “If people know they can get away with drink-driving, they will take the risk – police need to be a deterrent.
“It has had a massive impact on us as a family and affected many other people who knew Charlotte.
“It happened three years ago and it is still very raw for us.”
David Lee’s daughter Sarah, of Bergholt Road, Colchester, died after a collision with a drunk-driver in Stutton, near Brantham, in December 2009.
He said: “It‘s regrettable these changes are happening to such vital policing work.
“If people who drink and drive know there is a chance a routine police presence will lead to them being caught, I think it is more than likely people will think twice.”
A spokesman for Essex Police admitted with a “limited number” of traffic cops, the force had to respond to demand.
He said: “Officers can not be allowed to simply go where they want.”
“At certain times of the day, where road policing numbers allow, these officers may be allocated patrol areas in the Clacton or Harwich areas.”