‘Why our figures all add up to a safe town centre’

Chief Inspector Julie Wheatley

Chief Inspector Julie Wheatley - Credit: Archant

The police officer in charge of the teams keeping Hitchin safe has refuted comments made by a colleague that the town’s booming night-time economy presents the force with significantly more problems than Stevenage.

Stevenage’s top policeman Chief Insp Richard Harbon, reported in the Comet earlier this month, said that the town’s busy social scene gave officers more headaches than its bigger neighbour.

But police figures released this month show that in the period from April 1 last year to the end of February, there were 30 public order offences recorded in Hitchin town centre and 38 in Stevenage.

Chief Insp Julie Wheatley, who oversees the police covering the town, told the Comet: “I love policing in Hitchin!

“I’m really proud to police in Hitchin and North Herts.


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“I was only in Hitchin last week, taking in one of the lovely restaurants there before sampling a pub.

“Hitchin’s a vibrant place with a lot of visitors – it’s not unsafe.

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“It has a mix of all types of people visiting – which is one of the reasons it’s such a special place.

“But it is one of the safest towns to police in North Herts – a fact borne out by our figures.

“If there’s a particular event in the town we may increase policing slightly.

“But I don’t put on routine overtime patrols as standard in Hitchin on weekends – which is a waste of resources and a drain on the public purse – because there is no pressing need to.

“I can’t stress this enough – Hitchin is a safe beautiful town with an eclectic mix of old and new premises, many independent, all of which contribute to a vibrant evening economy attracting visitors from all over the region.

“It’s actually busier than Stevenage because people enjoy visiting the town and enjoying all it has to offer. Hitchin is less ‘corporate’ than, say, Stevenage.

“I’m not blinded to the fact that anywhere has the potential for trouble – but there’s no specific safety issues with Hitchin.

“We work closely with agencies such as Pubwatch to ensure this continues.

Business development manager Michael Kretay of Ozinsky’s in Market Place agreed, saying: “Hitchin’s a nice town. A lot of good work’s been done to make it a safe place to visit.”

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