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Community wardens under fire as Kent County Council looks to save £1.2m from budget and considers cuts

By Paul Francis

Kent County Council could be cutting the number of community wardens that patrol towns and villages because of a spending squeeze.

The community wardens service has been regarded as a success since it was introduced more than 10 years ago but now faces the possibility of a reduction in numbers.

The council refused to comment on reports that as many as 27 of the 83 wardens in post - nearly a third - could lose their jobs.

A community warden. Stock picture
A community warden. Stock picture

But it confirmed a review was under way as part of a wider examination of all council services as it faced up to the need to save £330m over the next three years.

The KM Group has been told wardens have been notified some jobs could be on the line as £1.2m needs to be saved from its budget.

Spending on wardens was frozen last year, with a recruitment freeze meaning that any vacancies were left unfilled.

The initiative has been credited with helping curb low-level crime and successfully tackling anti-social behaviour in towns and villages.

Despite not having any powers of arrest, part of the wardens’ role is to act as the “eyes and ears” of the police.

They patrol mainly on foot and provide visible reassurance to residents.

Kent County Council said no decision had yet been taken but confirmed changes to the service, including a cut in numbers, was among options.

In a statement, the council said:“KCC is undertaking a series of reviews across all departments, including the community warden service, in order to address the challenge of saving £330 million over the next three years.

"Among several options being discussed and considered is a reduction in the number of wardens, managers and support staff in the service.

"This would be accompanied by a reorganisation which would result in continuing support for communities in different ways, with the possibility of reaching and serving more residents.”

"Among several options being discussed and considered is a reduction in the number of wardens, managers and support staff in the service" - council statement

The statement added: “However, no decisions have yet been taken, either on the preferred course of action, or the timing of any public consultation, if one is deemed necessary and desirable.”

Kent County Council was the first authority to introduce the concept of community wardens in 2003.

Their key role is to tackle low level crime and anti-social behaviour, providing a visible presence in communities.

They have no powers of arrest can take down names and addresses and pass them on the police but

They often work alongside the police for community safety purposes, such as monitoring speed limits.

Wardens in Kent operate every day of the week, between 7.30 am and 10 pm in 129 Kent communities.

  • In our original online article we included a library picture which we captioned 'A community warden takes part in a litter pick'. We are happy to make it clear that the gentleman pictured was John Crockford, who is not a community warden, but who volunteered for the litter pick in question. We apologise for any confusion this may have caused.
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