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160901 | Redeployment of "legendary" St Ives police Sergeant Mike Friday will not be reconsidered by top cops | West Briton


Redeployment of "legendary" St Ives police Sergeant Mike Friday will not be reconsidered by top cops

By wbchris | Posted: September 01, 2016


Mike Friday was unable to attend the meeting himself.

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Accusations of "madness" and storming from the room punctuated a highly-charged meeting over plans to remove a police sergeant from his beat. The plans to move the much-loved neighbourhood beat manager Sergeant Mike Friday to a new role at the custody centre at Camborne Police Station due to cutbacks attracted much resentment and even national attention when announced.

A campaign aimed at keeping Sergeant Friday on the streets was soon launched and a public meeting called by police to talk over the plans.

The feisty meeting took place at the St Ives Town Council chambers this morning and attracted a vociferous audience which included residents Maria Ellis, Sharon Ciliberto and ex-special constable Beverly Neilson who, between them, collected a staggering 4,041 signatures in support of keeping the sergeant on the local beat.

?Sergeant Mike Friday

Also present was Devon and Cornwall Police Deputy Chief Constable Bill Skelly and police and crime commissioner Alison Hernandez, who both came under heavy fire from the gathered public.

A St Ives local, one of more than 4,000, to sign the petition to keep Sergeant Friday in his current role

Ms Ciliberto added: "When news broke people were horrified as Mike Friday is the epitome of community policing.

"He is vital for long-term crime prevention and shows genuine interest in young people in the area. To take his skill set and put him behind a desk is simply not the best use of resources.

"In terms of crime prevention is definitely better than cure and Mike Friday has demonstrated his value in setting up St Ives Boxing Club and coaching rugby and surf lifesaving. Children respect him and by keeping him on the streets in St Ives and Hayle it nips the problem in the bud and prevents a generation from potentially ending up in custody themselves."

Sharon Ciliberto handing the petition over to Deputy Chief Constable Skelly

Mr Skelly responded by saying that although he understands the concerns of residents, the force sees the highest concentration of vulnerable people in its custody suites and so needs its best officers placed there.

"I understand the strength of local feeling, but it is my job to make decisions that ensures the force is as efficient as it can possibly be," he said.

Also present at the meeting was St Ives Mayor Linda Taylor who said that the lack of policing during the summer period had forced the council to employ street marshals which has worked well.

Deputy Chief Constable Skelly

She said: "Mike Friday is an exceptional officer who has skills he needs to be sharing with the community and not just the 20/30 people in custody at Camborne. It is madness."

Mr Skelly went onto deny that the move was negative and reiterate his belief that the decision was the best possible use of resources, much to the dismay of residents who bemoaned the lack of original consultation and the calling of a meeting when a decision appeared to have already been made. One resident then stormed out of the meeting in disgust.

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez

Mr Skelly said that he would take on board the opinions of the gathered residents but that his "options are limited". He was also unable to confirm that he would reconsider the plans to relocate Sergeant Friday.

However, one glimmer of hope for protesters came from Ms Hernandez, who commended their spirit before promising to meet with the deputy chief constable in private to discuss the views of the public and the 4,000 strong petition handed over at the meeting.

Ms Ellis, Ms Ciliberto and Ms Neilson have vowed to continue the fight despite odds being stacked against them.