Tony Martin - once jailed for killing a burglar- takes police and crime commissioner to task over policing cuts
- Credit: Ian Burt
There were astonishing scenes at a public meeting when Tony Martin who shot two burglars took a chief constable to task over policing cuts.
Fred Barras died when Tony Martin opened fire with a pump action shotgun at his farm at Emneth Hungate, near Wisbech, in 1999. His accomplice Brendon Fearon was wounded.
He was sentenced to life after a jury found him guilty of murder. But he was released after the conviction was reduced to manslaughter on appeal.
Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green held his regular public forum with Chief Constable Simon Bailey in King’s Lynn tonight and gave people the chance to ask their crime and policing questions.
Mr Bailey outlined the challenges facing the force’s finances, saying officer numbers had fallen from 1,650 to 1,472 over the last four years.
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Claiming it took six officers to pull him over on suspicion of drink driving when he was stopped at Tilney All Saints on his way home from a pub in Wisbech 18 months ago, Mr Martin asked why so many officers were needed if resources were being ‘‘cut to the bone’’.
“As far as your drink driving comment is concerned, I don’t think its right to talk about particular incidents,” said Mr Bailey. “For a normal road traffic stop, the normal number is two.”
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Mr Martin said he believed the police should try to return to personal contact with the public. He added: “I’m probably a dinosaur or an anachronism, I’m not sure which.”
Earlier Mr Bailey said he hoped officer numbers would increase if sufficient future savings could be made along with a 2pc increase in the force’s share of the council tax.
Concerns raised at the meeting included drivers speeding in villages and difficulties engaging with officers. There were also questions about the lack of officers recruited from ethnic minorities and whether burglaries had increased around Outwell.
A new system of body-worn cameras was demonstrated, which senior officers’ say will improve evidence gathering. Every officer in Norfolk and Suffolk will be equipped with the technology, at a cost of £1m.
Mr Bailey was questioned by Mr Green over the cost of the helicopter used by the force.
Mr Bailey said the aircraft cost £344,000 a year and was deployed 200 times last year.
Mr Green asked if it was correct that the chopper was being moved from its base at Wattisham, from where it took 40 minutes to reach some locations in Norfolk, and whether it had only been available to answer 80pc of call-outs.
He asked whether it could be replaced by drones in some circumstances. My Bailey said it was correct that the helicopter could be moving base, without elaborating on where. He added drones had “limited capability” for police work.
The meeting came after a report revealed officers in West Norfolk had made 276 arrests relating to the possession or supply of drugs over the last 12 months.
Large quantities of crack and heroin have been seized and a number of cases are going through the courts. Officers in West Norfolk received 30,866 calls last year.