A PRIVATE police force hired by a council to protect the public were caught hanging about down an alleyway checking their phones and smoking.
Southend Council splashed out £250k of taxpayer cash on its community cops – but locals are furious after the snaps allegedly showed them slacking off.
CCTV caught three of the six community safety officers loitering in the alleyway and sitting down near a fire escape – with critics claiming this happens up for up to 30 minutes at a time.
One man, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Southend Echo: “The council community team is non-existent on the High Street.
“If they are on a break, why three of them at the same time, in uniform and why not in their office away from the cold? This is a perceived waste of £250,000 of taxpayers’ money.”
Southend Cllr Mark Flewitt hit back at the criticism and said members of the public should be supporting his officers.
He added that on the day of the snaps the cops were responding to reports of children running over rooftops.
Cllr Flewitt said: “I personally find it very disappointing that anyone would try to publicly shame a hard-working officer in this way.”
The Sun Online has approached Southend Council for comment.
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