Community leaders have expressed concern that police officers normally based in Richmondshire have been seconded to deal with security at a fracking site in Ryedale.
It emerged this week at a meeting of Colburn Town Council at least two officers – a PC and a Sergeant – normally based in the Catterick area were currently working at Kirby Misperton, a fracking site that has been the seen of protests and demonstrations in recent months.
Councillors were concerned that despite assurances that policing would not be affected by the resources moved to deal with the protests, policing in their town was suffering.
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Colburn is currently suffering a spike in problems caused by young people who have been responsible for disorder and the harassment of residents of the town and shop keepers on the Broadway, including racial abuse.
Last week, Colburn Library closed for several days because volunteers felt unsafe after youths entered the building and refused to leave.
Police were also called to reports of young people throwing stones at shops.
At the meeting, councillors were concerned about the police response times and that PCSOs, rather than warranted officers, were being sent to deal with the youths.
It was reported at the meeting that police took 50 minutes when called by volunteers at the library last week and the PCSO who arrived was given the same verbal abuse that the staff received.
County councillor Helen Grant said she was “slightly enraged” about the situation.
“I have been here a long enough over the years and in that time we’ve had three big spikes (of problems with young people). Two of them were dealt with fairly quickly.
“But this spike is growing arms and legs and running away from people – it’s 100 per cent not acceptable.”
Cllr Angie Dale added: “I want my police officers to be in Colburn, not in Kirby Misperton in Ryedale.
“These serious situations deserve warranted officers.”
Cllr Stuart Styles warned that if the authorities did not get a grip of the situation, he feared community vigilantes would decide to take their own action.
The meeting was attended by Richmondshire neighbourhood Inspector Mark Gee who confirmed officers had been posted to Ryedale temporarily.
He said the biggest issue for police was getting enough evidence to ensure the offences committed by the young people passed the criminality test, meaning the offenders could enter the criminal justice system.
In recent weeks police have issued a large number of dispersal orders to youths in Colburn, however Insp Gee admitted these had limited impact.
He added that could also be difficult to issue and relied on the young person standing still and paying attention to receive the order.
A public spaces protection order is currently being prepared for Colburn.
However, Insp Gee said this also would not solve all the community’s problems.
Tom Thorpe, policy manager at the office of the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, also attended the meeting.
He said North Yorkshire Police had not choice but to police the fracking site, however he added that they would be seeking to recover the cost from the Government.
Superintendent Alisdair Dey, from North Yorkshire Police, said in a statement issued to Richmondshire Today after the meeting: “Officers are deployed to Kirby Misperton from around the North Yorkshire geographical force area.
“Although we are focused on the operation there, it’s still ‘business as usual’ elsewhere for North Yorkshire Police, and people in Richmondshire can be reassured that we are attending to our usual duties and continuing to provide a high quality service.
“The key challenge for us at Kirby Misperton is balancing the rights, needs and wishes of everyone there – including people assembling and protesting peacefully, businesses carrying out their lawful activity, and local residents going about their daily lives safely and without disruption.
“We always respond proportionately to any protest activity, so that means when it’s peaceful and safe, we can reduce the number of officers at Kirby Misperton, and redeploy them to policing duties elsewhere in North Yorkshire, including Richmondshire.”