POLICE chiefs have been given the low-down on crime and security issues in the Salisbury Plain area as the roles of 60 MoD police officers there look set to disappear.
Wiltshire’s Assistant Chief Constable Steve Hedley and police and crime commissioner (PCC) for Wiltshire Angus Macpherson heard from Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) staff about some of the security, access and crime issues during a day’s visit to the area.
A consultation that allows for the removal of 60 Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) officers is currently taking place. If approved, the cost-cutting measures will see officers removed from Boscombe Down, Winterbourne Gunner, Bulford, Larkhill, Tidworth and Wilton.
And it will mean a greater reliance on Wiltshire Police. Topics of discussion during the visit included the land management and sustainability of the Plain, public safety, the ongoing work to improve public access and the additional pressures that will be placed on Salisbury Plain and the surrounding Garrisons as a result of the rebasing of troops from Germany to the UK, which will see 4,000 extra soldiers are based on the Plain.
Commander defence training estate south west Lt Col Mark Hiskett said: “We shared some of our prime safety and policing issues and I am confident that we will be able to work together in partnership with Wiltshire Constabulary to address these issues in the future.”
He added that although DIO’s top priority was to meet military training needs, the organisation also had a responsibility to ensure that the archaeological and historical value of Salisbury Plain was maintained.
The day included a Land Rover tour and a helicopter tour.
Mr Macpherson said: “The Plain accounts for about 11 per cent of the area of our county and with the forthcoming increase in personnel coming to both Tidworth and Lyneham there are new challenges which we face, as well as benefits to the local economy.”
Mr Hedley said: “This was an interesting tour and a good opportunity for us to talk face-to-face about safety and policing issues. “We will continue to work closely with Ministry of Defence Police, the MoD and military colleagues to provide the best possible policing service to communities living and working in the Salisbury Plain area.”