A senior district councillor has taken a vicious swipe at Warwickshire Police criticising the scruffiness of officers and questioning their ability to investigate complaints of racism and xenophobia.
Cllr Robert Vaudry launched the attack during Monday’s full council meeting as councillors discussed a motion to ensure local organisations have the resources and support to fight racism and xenophobia.
The motion, which was unanimously agreed, set out the council’s position to prevent such attitudes from becoming acceptable.
After welcoming the motion Cllr Vaudry unexpectedly tore into the police saying he had doubts about the force’s ability to fight racism and xenophobia.
Mr Vaudry said: “I have to express my misgivings about whether our local police are up to the task of fighting and preventing racism and xenophobia. Sadly the feedback I receive time and again from residents I represent is that our local police in Stratford are ineffective, incompetent and inept. About the only in they seem not to be able to do is investigate.”
Mr Vaudry proceeded to criticise the appearance of officers, at one point saying that a PCSO he had recently met was unshaven and looked like he had been sleeping in his uniform for a week.
He added: “Just because you have to deal with homelessness doesn’t mean you have to look like you live on the streets.”
He also went on to talk about complaints from two residents regarding the actions of police officers.
He concluded saying: “I believe Ron Ball did a good job in establishing the role of the PCC and putting processes in place, I think once the new PCC gets his feet under the table, I voted for him and know he will do a great job, he needs to have a real heart to heart with the chief constable and tell him very clearly that people in Stratford are losing confidence in the police and either the chief constable sorts it out quickly or looks for another job.”
Speaking later in the meeting Cllr Peter Moorse said Cllr Vaudry’s comments on policing were of no relevance to the motion put forward and suggested that he talked to the new Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Cllr Philip Seccombe about any such concerns.
Cllr Seccombe, who was present at the meeting, said: “I have spoken to the chief constable this morning and there has been no increase in racism or hate crime since Brexit in Warwickshire or Stratford, so please do not be too alarmist to our residents who are justifiably very worried about this.
“I am listening to what you (Cllr Vaudry) say and I will try to pass on your point in my weekly meeting and see what response I get, but I don’t agree that our police are either ineffective, incompetent or inept.
“They are not perfect but they are considerably better than many other forces in the country and once again I think we need to be very careful before we criticise our law enforcement officers in public.”
He added that he would be looking to take up residents’ complaints about the police in his new role.
Responding to Cllr Vaudry’s criticisms, superintendent Adrian McGee said: “Investigating hate crime and increasing confidence in our communities to report when they have been a victim of hate crime is a priority for Warwickshire Police.
“Hate crime in all its forms is unacceptable. We treat all reports with utmost seriousness and they will all be responded to.
“Once enquiries are completed, we call victims of hate crime to check that they are happy with the service they have received and address any concerns or issues they may have.
“We have recently launched a new Hate Incident Partnership group for South Warwickshire. This group includes representatives from community groups and other local organisations with an interest in tackling hate crime. One of the roles of this group is to ensure that we are responding appropriately to hate crimes. This includes reviewing some of the investigations we have carried out.
“We are keen to get more people from the Stratford-upon-Avon area sitting on this group. If anyone is interested they can call Jo-An Golding on 01926415141.
“If victims of hate crime are not satisfied with the service they have received from officers then I would urge them to contact us.
“We know that hate crime on a national level is massively underreported and we’re working hard to give victims the confidence to come forward. We would urge anyone who has been a victim of a hate crime or anyone who witnesses a hate crime to report it to us.”
He added: “We have a strict appearance and dress code for our officers and where they fall short of this we would like to know so we can speak to the officer concerned. “