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PCSO's and PPE

PCSO's & PPE  

36 members have voted

  1. 1. What bits of PPE would you find beneficial in your role as a PCSO?

    • Handcuffs (reasons why below please)
      22
    • Incapacitant Spray (reasons why below please)
      15
    • Baton (reasons why below please)
      6
    • Limb Restraints (reasons why below please)
      10
    • None of the above (reasons why below please)
      11


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Just a topic regarding the issue of PCSO's and PPE. Some forces issue their PCSO's with handcuffs, but this is looking at what you as a PCSO would find beneficial in your role. Also, what problems do you think PCSO's could face with the issue of any PPE?

 

Comments and input from non-PCSO's welcome of course :)

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morek54

PCSOs should not be issued with any of those.  My own personal feelings about PCSOs aside - not the people, but the role - if they were to be issued with any of that equipment, then that would completely alter the role.  Fundamentally.  Not just in terms of appearance and how they are perceived by the public - but it really would become Policing on the cheap because if they were to become equipped the same as Police Officers, then they would be dispatched to and expected to deal with the same sorts of calls.    

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Sierra Lima Sierra

I only know of two forces that issue handcuffs to PCSOs - anyone know any more than that?

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C-KAY

No I believe it is only the two. One of the forces in Wales I believe and BTP.

 

I think this is a somewhat difficult subject because of the role of PCSO and I believe that this issue does highlight some of the fundamental issues with it. Its supposed to be non-confrontational but the PCSOs I have known are happy to get stuck in but at the same time they are concerned by the lack of protection they have from being assaulted. As a PC if I ask for urgent assistance I know that it will take a short period of time for other officers to arrive and in the meantime I'm on my own but I can do stuff to help myself, I have the options of CS or stick but for a PCSO you have a short period of time where you don't have those options which could make that feel like a much longer time and could be very dangerous.

 

As much as I feel that PCSOs should have some defensive options I feel that if they do, aren't we admitting that their role can be confrontational and that does that not mean they're then that much closer to being a police officer and if we want PCSOs to be closer to PCs then why not just recruit more PCs and do away with the PCSO role? I'd say that CS/PAVA might be a good option because it can be fairly well concealed without questions being asked about it, it need not be on show and it can be used to simply spray a suspect before a PCSO can "tactically withdraw" and ask for urgent assistance.

 

The problem with PCSOs now is that the job has a dilemma because they don't want to get rid of people and PCSOs are cheaper than PCs and many PCSOs would not want to switch to being PCs (even some who I've met and in my opinion could easily eat up the role of being a PC for breakfast) don't want to be PCs so the job then faces losing boots on the ground which is not a good thing. Its a very tough subject.

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Sierra Lima Sierra

Same two that I know of (it's North Wales Police, pretty sure about that)

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MindTheGap

No I believe it is only the two. One of the forces in Wales I believe and BTP.

 

I think this is a somewhat difficult subject because of the role of PCSO and I believe that this issue does highlight some of the fundamental issues with it. Its supposed to be non-confrontational but the PCSOs I have known are happy to get stuck in but at the same time they are concerned by the lack of protection they have from being assaulted. As a PC if I ask for urgent assistance I know that it will take a short period of time for other officers to arrive and in the meantime I'm on my own but I can do stuff to help myself, I have the options of CS or stick but for a PCSO you have a short period of time where you don't have those options which could make that feel like a much longer time and could be very dangerous.

 

As much as I feel that PCSOs should have some defensive options I feel that if they do, aren't we admitting that their role can be confrontational and that does that not mean they're then that much closer to being a police officer and if we want PCSOs to be closer to PCs then why not just recruit more PCs and do away with the PCSO role? I'd say that CS/PAVA might be a good option because it can be fairly well concealed without questions being asked about it, it need not be on show and it can be used to simply spray a suspect before a PCSO can "tactically withdraw" and ask for urgent assistance.

 

The problem with PCSOs now is that the job has a dilemma because they don't want to get rid of people and PCSOs are cheaper than PCs and many PCSOs would not want to switch to being PCs (even some who I've met and in my opinion could easily eat up the role of being a PC for breakfast) don't want to be PCs so the job then faces losing boots on the ground which is not a good thing. Its a very tough subject.

This is a very force specific argument though; I've never had my role described as 'non-confrontational' by anyone, even when I was recruited - we were given the realities of the role, we're issued handcuffs, limb restraints and spit masks for a reason, and make regular use of them. Have the wheels suddenly come off? No, PCSO numbers are decreasing in my force faster than ever before, with even more of them being upskilled to PCs each time recruitment opens (myself included!).

 

To the person who stated that PCSOs would suddenly become despatched to the same calls as a PC, already happens in BTP mate - whatever you think of it, it works well.

 

Why should PCSOs (in my force) be issued Captor (other incapacitant sprays available): You're in public, in a police uniform and even the lowest of low level jobs has the ability to escalate beyond low level disorder. It's better to have and not use, than need and not have. Same for batons. Whatever you think of the ROLE, if the PEOPLE aren't bad why aren't they being protected? A radio and a vest is not much protection A PCSO out on their own, up the line, or on board a train is far more isolated and at risk than one wandering around posting leaflets in the counties.

 

You cannot suddenly say that PCSOs are created equal, they all have the same options in law (except with specialised laws such as railway byelaws, but local byelaws could be added to their powers), but most forces stripped the bones out to appease the federation. The public are far more receptive to us BTP PCSOs than they are the Met PCSOs, they're reassured by the fact we can take positive action (or at least be seen to take positive action with reporting people, detaining people etc). I do doubt the worth of PCSOs recruited to wander around aimlessly with no intention of getting involved in anything.

 

There does need to be a distinction between constables and PCSOs, but by allowing more forces to let them go hands on you're not blurring the lines as much as you'd think. The Australian equivalent of PCSOs have side arms - very different countries, but you don't see them panicking about kitting out law enforcement officers with kit necessary to their role (again, for a PCSO this is force specific. The last guidance on PCSO deployment/role descriptions was written in 2005, there's been no update since but a lot has changed in nearly 10 years.

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C-KAY

This is a very force specific argument though; I've never had my role described as 'non-confrontational' by anyone, even when I was recruited - we were given the realities of the role, we're issued handcuffs, limb restraints and spit masks for a reason, and make regular use of them. Have the wheels suddenly come off? No, PCSO numbers are decreasing in my force faster than ever before, with even more of them being upskilled to PCs each time recruitment opens (myself included!).

 

To the person who stated that PCSOs would suddenly become despatched to the same calls as a PC, already happens in BTP mate - whatever you think of it, it works well.

 

Why should PCSOs (in my force) be issued Captor (other incapacitant sprays available): You're in public, in a police uniform and even the lowest of low level jobs has the ability to escalate beyond low level disorder. It's better to have and not use, than need and not have. Same for batons. Whatever you think of the ROLE, if the PEOPLE aren't bad why aren't they being protected? A radio and a vest is not much protection A PCSO out on their own, up the line, or on board a train is far more isolated and at risk than one wandering around posting leaflets in the counties.

 

You cannot suddenly say that PCSOs are created equal, they all have the same options in law (except with specialised laws such as railway byelaws, but local byelaws could be added to their powers), but most forces stripped the bones out to appease the federation. The public are far more receptive to us BTP PCSOs than they are the Met PCSOs, they're reassured by the fact we can take positive action (or at least be seen to take positive action with reporting people, detaining people etc). I do doubt the worth of PCSOs recruited to wander around aimlessly with no intention of getting involved in anything.

 

There does need to be a distinction between constables and PCSOs, but by allowing more forces to let them go hands on you're not blurring the lines as much as you'd think. The Australian equivalent of PCSOs have side arms - very different countries, but you don't see them panicking about kitting out law enforcement officers with kit necessary to their role (again, for a PCSO this is force specific. The last guidance on PCSO deployment/role descriptions was written in 2005, there's been no update since but a lot has changed in nearly 10 years.

 

 

I'm sorry but did you read the post that I wrote of the one you think I wrote? I said supposed to be non-confrontational, not it is. The reality is of course that you shouldn't be being used to routinely answer those calls. That's not why the public was told PCSOs were being bought in. I suppose again with BTP its a bit different with the byelaws and so on. Yes, I'm sure things are different in BTP, and no I'm not posted out in the sticks, I'm talking about where I am posted and its a (not so nice part of) an inner London borough which definitely has its issues. I don't think any force cares about appeasing the federation, after all what are they going to do about it? Write a strongly worded letter that the recipient probably won't even open? Again as I said the two PCSOs on my old team (when I was posted to neighbourhoods) were fantastic and they did get stuck in. They might call us first and ask us to attend but they did a lot more than post leaflets.

 

 

The problem as I see it is not the people having access to those things but rather the way the role is perceived and the issues surrounding that. PCSOs shouldn't be used like PCs in my opinon. PCSOs being issued with PPE isn't the be all and end all. In two years of being a PC and three of being a special (doing over 500 hours a year) in some rough areas in London, I've threatened to use my stick once (2011 riots) drawn it about three or four times just in case and the only time I've even seen anyone use CS is when my colleague's cannister broke and filled the car with it a couple of months back (that was a bad time). The best bit of PPE I've got is my gob.

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Steph3n93

From not having PCSOs in Scotland, I've always just been of the opinion that the money going to PCSOs could be spent on police officers.

However I could be wrong as I'm not fully aware of what they do but I couldn't see anything wrong with having CS covertly stored and a pair of folding cuffs stored in their vests, at the end of the day they're still out in the public with POLICE plastered all over them so they should be entitled to some protection however there's obviously S.5 firearm issues there.

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Growley

Why have covertly stored equipment? The second the first pcso uses it, it's out.

If anything, overtly stored equipment might be more of a deterrent to would be assaulters.

That being said, I don't have a solid opinion on what equipment PCSOs should be issued at this time.

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MindTheGap

From not having PCSOs in Scotland, I've always just been of the opinion that the money going to PCSOs could be spent on police officers.

However I could be wrong as I'm not fully aware of what they do but I couldn't see anything wrong with having CS covertly stored and a pair of folding cuffs stored in their vests, at the end of the day they're still out in the public with POLICE plastered all over them so they should be entitled to some protection however there's obviously S.5 firearm issues there.

Which has a nice exemption for PCSOs already! They're weapons subject to general prohibition too, not firearms per se.

 

 

For the purposes of this section and of any rule of law whereby any provision of this Act does not bind the Crown, a person shall be deemed to be in the service of Her Majesty if he is—

(a)a member of a police force, or

(b)a person employed by a police authority who is under the direction and control of a chief officer of police or

©a member of the staff of the National Crime Agency

S54 (3) b of the Firearms Act 1968 - PCSOs have to be this to be designated

 

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1968/27/section/54

 

 

 

A baton is an offensive weapon by virtue of Section 1 (1) Prevention of 

Crime Act 1953, being specifically made for causing injury. Possession of 
such an item is not an offence where lawful authority exists. It is 
considered that possession of a baton by a PCSO on duty, where 
authorised by a Chief Officer, will therefore be lawful. 

From ACPO

Edited by MindTheGap
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morek54

This is a very force specific argument though; I've never had my role described as 'non-confrontational' by anyone, even when I was recruited - we were given the realities of the role, we're issued handcuffs, limb restraints and spit masks for a reason, and make regular use of them. Have the wheels suddenly come off? No, PCSO numbers are decreasing in my force faster than ever before, with even more of them being upskilled to PCs each time recruitment opens (myself included!).

 

To the person who stated that PCSOs would suddenly become despatched to the same calls as a PC, already happens in BTP mate - whatever you think of it, it works well.

 

Why should PCSOs (in my force) be issued Captor (other incapacitant sprays available): You're in public, in a police uniform and even the lowest of low level jobs has the ability to escalate beyond low level disorder. It's better to have and not use, than need and not have. Same for batons. Whatever you think of the ROLE, if the PEOPLE aren't bad why aren't they being protected? A radio and a vest is not much protection A PCSO out on their own, up the line, or on board a train is far more isolated and at risk than one wandering around posting leaflets in the counties.

 

You cannot suddenly say that PCSOs are created equal, they all have the same options in law (except with specialised laws such as railway byelaws, but local byelaws could be added to their powers), but most forces stripped the bones out to appease the federation. The public are far more receptive to us BTP PCSOs than they are the Met PCSOs, they're reassured by the fact we can take positive action (or at least be seen to take positive action with reporting people, detaining people etc). I do doubt the worth of PCSOs recruited to wander around aimlessly with no intention of getting involved in anything.

 

There does need to be a distinction between constables and PCSOs, but by allowing more forces to let them go hands on you're not blurring the lines as much as you'd think. The Australian equivalent of PCSOs have side arms - very different countries, but you don't see them panicking about kitting out law enforcement officers with kit necessary to their role (again, for a PCSO this is force specific. The last guidance on PCSO deployment/role descriptions was written in 2005, there's been no update since but a lot has changed in nearly 10 years.

PCSO are not Police Officers.  They do not wear Police uniforms - but distinctly different uniforms (close up, anyway) that are clearly marked "Police Community Support Officer".  Police staff - or, if you prefer, Support Staff.  There is an absolute and clear distinction.  If you are being dispatched to certain types of calls, which are not suitable for PCSOs then the sort of abuses we all envisaged when this role was first forced upon the Police has been realised.  

 

The fact that we are even discussing this highlights how flawed a concept it was in the first place.  I blame the Labour government, who came up with the bright idea in the first place.  They created this additional work force, spent millions on it with little or no quantifiable benefits, in keeping with their policy of wasting vast amounts the tax payers money within the public sector - and look where we are now.  Massive budget cuts and a significant decline in Police numbers.  No wonder you're being used, wrongly, as quasi-cops dealing with the sort of stuff you're expected to deal with, which you shouldn't be dealing with.

 

Ultimately, if you think you need a baton and pava spray to do your job, you're not doing the job you're paid for.  Whilst you acknowledge there needs to be a distinction between the two roles, having PCSOs strutting about armed with a baton and pava spray blurs that distinction.  I'm sure your job description will confirm that.

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Dan

I would love to have the lot on my belt but that’s just not what my job role is for. As much as I need it and I do enjoy getting stuck in arresting people, my force simply don’t want it to happen. When we’re out on the streets the public perception is that we are police and we should be arresting people and dealing with incidents effectively but after all these years we are still expected by the government and the majority of forces to be walking cardboard cut-outs to provide a high visibility presence and hope for the best. Anyone who has done the PCSO role knows just how dangerous and confrontational it can be. We are expected to ‘withdraw, observe and report’ and leave the victims to fend for themselves. It’s very difficult trying to do that when you are passionate about protecting the public and bringing criminals to justice.

 

With all the budget cuts and lack of constables being able to respond to things, we are being used more and more for grade one response work, and investigating crime. We are sent and come across confrontational situations daily. It seems a waste constantly sending PCSO’s to ‘hold the flag’ and having to call PC’s out to deal with everything due to the lack of effective powers. It’s a shame they don’t get rid of the role and recruit more dedicated neighbourhood officers who can do all of the same things a PCSO does now but have the tools to do the job properly there and then.  Personally, I don’t know why policing on the cheap would be a bad thing. Of course police deserve a decent wage given the job they do, but there are plenty of people willing to work for peanuts (and for free you specials out there) and are passionate enough to do just as good a job as others.

 

Anyway, until the role changes, the current answer to the question is a ‘no to all’ as cardboard (or plastic, depending on who you speak to) does not need PPE.

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MerseyLLB

Give them cuffs, PAVA/CS and limb restraints.

Not a baton/taser however as they should not be sent to pre-assessed confrontation but have incapacitant spray as a defensive measure.

Reform the role and make the PCSO a Police Support Officer - giving them PCSO, Escort officer, Investigation Officer and Detention Officer powers.

Utilise them as neighbourhood dedicated officers dealing with neighbourhood ASB etc but with the ability to deal with compliant persons.

Let them take over council enforcement issues like littering, street trading etc and scrap the CSAS scheme. Divert the council funding currently ear marked to such council outfits to the police fund.

Let the PCs deal with disorder, violence and 'crime'/investigation.

This way a PSO could patrol, locate an offender, detain/summons them and then provide visible reassurance/follow up to the complainant.

Just as now, if there is pre-assessed violence or spontaneous violence deploy a PC.

The additional powers would also allow them to assist with other exigencies of duty such as interviewing offenders in their remit, conducting low level investigations, transporting prisoners and assisting in custody where required.

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MerseyLLB

PS the carriage of PPE makes no difference to approachability.

I'm a fully warranted Officer carrying full PPE and without blowing my own trumpet my physical stature commands a presence...

When I go out on foot I still get given intel by decent MOP and Mrs Miggins still blushes when I doff my custodian and exchange pleasantries.

PCSOs on foot talking to people are no more effective per se than a PC...it's just the role provides them the ring fences time to indulge in such engagement - their job was done for many years successfully by beat PCs.

In fact, to an extent, people are often far more pleased and trusting if a PC who is able to listen to a problem and take demonstrable steps to resolve it than a PCSO gathering info and passing it in. That's not a dig, just a fact.

There is a lady who, though I'm a response officer, I keep in contact with regarding ongoing ASB. I robustly dealt with offenders on my first call to her road and (though I nigh begged her to contact neighbourhood!) she still rings the station asking for me directly to update me in the situation and throws me some interesting intel in the process. I've met her family and she bangs on about how good I am for dealing with the first instance so agreeably (in her eyes).

I think that kind of bond is irreplaceable and PCSOs could attain that with a shift in role.

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Growley

Whilst there is absolutely a confrontational aspect to the role, the PCSOs I work with are actually have a grudging acceptance from the local troublemakers - they're willing to engage and tolerate the presence of PCSOs for more than they are for PCs. This is essentially down to the low-powered and non-confrontational concept behind the role; they know the PCSOs won't be arresting/searching/disrupting them, so they don't make a huge issue about them being there. In turn, this allows us to keep tabs on them.

 

Would giving more equipment to PCSOs change this? Is this something we want to embrace, or avoid?

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