Police hit back at claims the Kidlington area has been left without a regular police presence

Police have hit back at claims from a councillor that Kidlington and the surrounding area has been left without a regular police presence.
County councillor complains Kidlington left without please coverage.County councillor complains Kidlington left without please coverage.
County councillor complains Kidlington left without please coverage.

Cllr Ian Middleton of Oxfordshire County Council and the Green Party group at Cherwell District Council has written a letter to concerns about policing in the area he represents.

But Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley Matthew Barber said his claims are ‘factually incorrect and does a disservice to officers’.

Kidlington councillors heard on August 8 that their regular PC had been seconded to Bicester along with all Neighbourhood Police Officers in the area as part of a force-wide ‘resilience plan’.

This supposedly left Kidlington and the surrounding area without any police officer cover for five weeks until a replacement officer would be designated for the area on September 11.

In a letter addressed to the Police and Crime Commissioner, Cllr Ian Middleton said: “This has left the area I represent with no regular police cover save for two PCSOs. Whilst I’m sure they do an excellent job, they have a narrow remit and limited powers, especially in terms of arrest.

"As an example of resilience, it would seem that in my division this situation has created exactly the opposite, especially where a quick response may be required. The journey from Bicester to Kidlington can take some time on the best of days, so this would seem to preclude anything approaching an emergency response during this time.

"I would therefore appreciate an explanation of how we could have arrived at this situation, where a large conurbation and several villages have been left with no regular police cover for a significant period of time.”

Mr Barber responded by saying: “It is misleading to suggest that the area is “left with no regular police cover”. In addition to the PCSOs who still provide local community engagement, Kidlington and the surrounding area continues to be policed by local officers, who will not only provide the response to crime and other emergencies, but also the Priority Crime Team and CID officers.

"In addition to this of course all areas across Thames Valley are supported by force wide units. Not only do these officers provide vital if often unseen protection for the public, but will also provide proactive and visible units such as roads policing, who alongside their core role of patrolling the roads will regularly assist local teams in making arrests and responding to emergency calls.

"You mention emergency response, which is what I am sure your constituents would expect the force to focus on. The officers in the neighbourhood team would not normally be tasked with responding to 999 calls, this is the role of ICR, and therefore the move to temporarily move officers from neighbourhood to ICR duties is entirely intended to maintain emergency response.

"I cannot accept the characterisation in your letter that Kidlington and the surrounding area has been left without a regular police presence. It is factually incorrect and does a disservice to officers who have continued to serve your constituents and respond to their emergency calls during the period you mention.”