Town protests at loss of its respected policeman

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BUSINESS leaders have complained to Suffolk’s chief constable after a popular policeman was suddenly removed from their town centre.

Pc Mark Ellis covered Bury St Edmunds town centre for 13 years until he was told he would be moved back to Mildenhall, where he started his police career. Last week, he learned he would instead be moved to the response team at Haverhill. But his wife Hazel said he was ‘devastated’ at having to leave Bury.

The town’s chamber of commerce has written to Chief Constable Simon Ash protesting at Pc Ellis’ removal and its suddenness, which meant people could not even thank him for his work.

The letter said: “We realise that from time to time there will be changes and that managers must be allowed to deploy officers as they see fit, but there is no better fit than Mark Ellis and Bury St Edmunds.

“He’s more than just a police officer. No-one commanded or deserved more respect than he did.”

Chamber manager Ruth Brady said: “It’s not just his personality, it’s that he’s a damn good police officer. He knows Bury like the back of his hand and he was always there for special events.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to is shocked. We’re the public and, surely, if we’ve got the policing we want, we should be able to keep it. He did more for public and police relations than any amount of consultation.”

Pc Ellis has been told not to comment on the move, but Mrs Ellis said: “He was devastated to be leaving. He was dumbfounded when he heard. He was supposed to work the following weekend but he just couldn’t. He was in tears. It’s literally come out of the blue and he doesn’t understand it.

“Why move a committed police officer? Mark always committed himself to the job over and above what was expected of him, attending meetings in his own time and doing presentations to various groups.

“I thought the idea of safer neighbourhood teams was to build relationships, but in moving him they’ve got to get used to someone new.”

Pc Ellis’ work in the town was recognised a few years ago when he was awarded Suffolk Police’s Sheepshanks Trophy for outstanding services to the community.

A police spokesman said: “We will not be commenting on this specific officer through the media. As the letter has been sent to the constabulary, we will respond directly back to the letter once it is received.

“However, all police officers are moved periodically into new roles over the course of their career, for their development and the development of others.”