Published Date: 03 February 2009
THE triple deaths at Osbaston House late last year put a severe strain on police resources and should not be used as a yardstick for performance, a leading police officer told councillors last week.
Making his final appearance at the Borough Council's Scrutiny Committee, Inspector Jim Stafford of Oswestry Police, answered complaints that officers had not been available to deal with a report of a 'rave' in Trefonen while the Osbaston House incident was ongoing.
Councillor Vince Hunt, whose original concern was about the lack of powers of Community Support Officers, said that the public, who three times had phoned to report the incident in Trefonen, had been told that the police were 'too busy' to attend.
The Inspector said that Osbaston House was a major incident which would have tested any police force in the country.
"In the first few days there were so many cordons to put in. In the early stages it was not known that the occupant had killed the rest of the family. Hopefully it will not happen in the borough again," he said.
During a wide-ranging presentation, Inspector Stafford spoke of the success of Community Support Officers in providing a visible presence.
"But they are not expected to deal with violent incidents or arrests and are trained to withdraw from such incidents," he said.
"Their primary role is to provide high visibility and assurance," he added.
They had some advantages over the regular officers.
"They are not tied to the radio and they don't get dragged away to deal with other incidents. If they make appointments they can usually keep them and they have time to talk to people and get to know the public," he explained.
They also had a valuable role in combating the effects of anti-social behaviour at Trans House, under-age drinking in Cae Glas Park and a spate of incidents at St Martins Centre.
Not all the police's responses were punitive and they had engaged with young people outside Oswestry Leisure Centre where police and CSO's had organised five-a-side football sessions.
However, not all councillors were satisfied and Cllr Ron Jones said that police seemed powerless to deal with vandalism in Gobowen, St Martins and various other villages.
Inspector Stafford said that it was unrealistic to believe they could prevent all vandalism and there was no single solution to all the problems. If there was a particular area that needed attention they could place a mobile CCTV camera there and in other areas such as Cae Glas Park they had used the town's Radiolink Scheme to get CSOs to the scene.
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