Efforts to encourage community groups in Peterborough to help the authorities tackle anti-social behaviour have been described as “policing on the cheap.”
A working group tasked with finding ways for volunteer organisations to “help address issues within their own neighbourhoods” was set to be agreed by Peterborough city councillors last night.
The group is needed because the police and council are facing a rising demand for services but have less resources at hand, according to a report handed to councillors.
However, Labour councillor Ansar Ali, a former member of the now defunct Cambridgeshire Police Authority, said: “This is policing on the cheap.
“This austerity that we have in the public sector is going too far.
“I’m all for giving local communities more of a say, but what we have to make sure is a police officer is a police officer.”
The report which recommends forming a working group states that littering, fly-tipping, speeding and verge parking are some of the issues which community and volunteer groups can help the public sector tackle.
It states: “Empowering communities with the knowledge, skills and tools to help themselves rather than relying wholly on public services may lead to better outcomes for communities and reduce the cost to the public sector.”
Peterborough has the Prevention and Enforcement Service (PES) which was set up last year to tackle anti-social behaviour in the city.
A spokeswoman for the PES said: “We will always be responsible for tackling anti-social behaviour in our communities, but if we can better engage our communities in the process and gain their support, this can only be a good thing.
“Indeed, it should help reduce levels of offending if more people show a pride in the area that they live.
“At the same time this would free up time for officers to tackle higher risk issues that the same communities are facing.”