Meet the safety officers set to patrol Hythe and Dibden streets

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ACSOs hythe dibden
Hythe and Dibden ACSOs Michael Armstrong (left) and Mike Cathcart

TWO new accredited community safety officers (ACSOs) will soon be out patrolling the streets of Hythe and Dibden after being appointed by the parish council.

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Michael Armstrong and Mike Cathcart will be familiarising themselves with the area over the coming weeks, and by the end of the year residents can expect to see them out on foot, bicycle or using the council’s electric vehicle.

The ACSOs will have powers to issue on-the-spot fines to those cycling on footpaths, not picking up after their dogs, littering or graffitiing.

They can also request names and addresses of those acting anti-socially and confiscate
alcohol or tobacco from youths.

However, parish council chair Cllr Malcolm Wade said it was not the intention these powers will be used.

“What we want is for these officers to engage with the community, reassure people and resolves issues where possible,” he said. “Residents who have concerns will have a number to ring, and our officers will go and see them.”

Former retained firefighter Mr Armstrong has experience working for the prison service, and also served in the Royal Hampshire Regiment. Mr Cathcart has a background in education.

Cllr Wade continued: “We have a familiarisation and accreditation programme in place for them both, and I am sure they will receive a warm welcome from traders and residents alike.

“I do urge people to engage with them and alert them to any safety issue they might perceive. Community safety remains our number one priority.”

The Community Safety Accreditation Scheme gives organisations and their employees targeted police powers to deal with incidents such as anti-social behaviour, disorder and nuisance.

The new officers take the positions left four years ago by Norman Bareham and his daughter, Louise Brearley.

Mr Bareham had worked as an ACSO for seven years but stood down in 2016 after he
was given an absolute discharge by Southampton magistrates for assaulting a minor while
on duty. Ms Brearley, an ACSO for five years, left shortly after.

In 2019 money that had been set aside to boost community policing in Hythe and Dibden was spent on other services instead, as reported in the A&T.

The funds, collected via an increase in council tax specifically for two ACSOs, had not been ring-fenced since the departure of the two previous officers in 2016.

Since then, the council had instead tried to recruit a police community support officer (PCSO) but hit a wall after Hampshire Constabulary announced it would not be hiring until 2019.

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