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Plan to slash PCSO numbers a 'desperate measure'


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100 officers will be moved to neighbourhood teams in force shake-up.

Chief Constable Gareth Wilson

Chief Constable Gareth Wilson


Proposals which could see PCSOs slashed by 78 per cent since 2010 have been lambasted as “short-sighted and reckless”.

This week Suffolk Constabulary confirmed a planned “restructure” which would see more than 100 officers move into Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) while the number of full-time equivalent PCSO posts would be cut to 48.

Currently there are 81 full-time equivalent PCSOs in Suffolk Constabulary but this is down from 107 in 2016 and 173 in 2010.

The restructure assumes Suffolk Constabulary will persuade local groups and businesses to match or fully fund 18 PCSOs but UNISON is sceptical and believes only 38 PCSO posts will remain when the changes are implemented in October.

Suffolk Constabulary wants to move 97 PCs and seven sergeants into SNTs (making a total of 159 PCs and 26 sergeants) in response to a “challenging financial landscape” and surging demand.

UNISON national officer for police and justice Ben Priestley called the announcement a “desperate response to government cuts.”

He said: “Cutting frontline PCSOs is short-sighted and reckless.

“PCSOs are not only a reassuring, visible presence in communities, they also gather vital intelligence that prevents crime and protects the public. 

“Axing PCSOs means the work they do to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour will either stop altogether, or land on the lap of already overburdened officers and staff.

“These cutbacks are creating a safe haven for criminals and a growing sense of fear and insecurity in communities."

He called on the force to “urgently reverse this ill-thought out decision.”

Police Oracle has asked Suffolk Constabulary which departments the new SNT officers will be transferred from.

It is hoped the changes will relieve pressure on frontline officers.

Chief Constable Gareth Wilson said: "Local policing is the bedrock of our service. A major part of the evolution of our policing model is listening to the public and responding to what they tell us, and we appreciate their primary desire is to see as many officers on the frontline as possible.

"What we have also had to do is to look at our increasing demand and adapt the way we work to ensure we provide a service which is fit for Suffolk’s future needs.

"We have had to make some difficult decisions about the composition of our future workforce and the blend of skills and abilities we will require.

"However, we acknowledge the value of PCSOs and are still committed to them continuing to play a key role within communities. Although the balance of our workforce will need to change, PCSOs remain an important part in the provision of a high-quality police service in Suffolk.”

Final decisions will be made in September.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore said:  "As I meet people across the county, one thing is clear - residents want as many officers as possible on the front-line. I’m pleased to say we have listened.

"These proposals could see an extra 104 police officers moving into the Safer Neighbourhood Teams from October this year.

"In order to do this some police roles have been civilianised, officers have been moved from central  to local teams and regrettably the number of PCSOs will reduce, but the outcome will be more officers will be available for local policing and that’s great news for Suffolk.”

Mr Passmore added: "I fully endorse these changes, which I am pleased to say increases the number of front-line local police officers and as Police and Crime Commissioner, I will be monitoring the impact of this new model to ensure the people of Suffolk are getting the police service they deserve.”

Affected staff will be apply to apply for one of the new PC roles, work as call handlers or as detention officers. A statement on the force website said it will look at redeployment “as the best option for those who are not able to take up a PCSO role”.

“Our demand profile is changing and increasing. The proposals also acknowledge the challenges being faced from ‘county line’ drug dealing, youth gang violence and ‘hidden harm’ crimes such as domestic abuse.

“This is where the training, capability and powers of a police constable will be more effective in meeting these challenges,” the statement said.

Twenty-seven PCSOs will work in a new link officer role with partner agencies in problem-solving initiatives.

“Improvements to investigative structure” with “more localised investigation” are also on the cards.

Three Neighbourhood Partnership Teams will be dedicated to preventative work and forging close links with partners while a serious crime disruption team will widen its focus to address high threat and harm issues including sexual violence, exploitation and the supply of controlled drugs.

Earlier this month the College of Policing launched a consultation on new neighbourhood policing guidelines which put an impetus on chief constables to ringfence neighbourhood policing teams.

In May Simon Kempton, operational lead for Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) warned some areas have already seen their neighbourhood teams “decimated” with poor prospects of reforging relationships within their communities.

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Definitely not an attack on individuals here so please don’t shout me down, however, it has been said before. Forces have been decimated, Officer numbers have been slashed, support staff slashed, CSOs are a luxury Im afraid and not a role that can be carried unless funded privately. 

Im not sure on the forces terminology, I’m guessing this means neighbourhood/response rolled in to one? If not where are the cops coming from? Must be nice to have 100 cops somewhere doing nothing to move in to this role.

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No brainer, when we are so short of police officers how can we justify employing PCSO's

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5 hours ago, Jimbo26 said:

No brainer, when we are so short of police officers how can we justify employing PCSO's

I would on the whole support this statement but, where are they going to get 100 officers from. Has someone found a box of them in central stores?

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I love a force shakeup. Easily equates to lots of people getting shafted. Hey, you know that team you work on, nope, that doesn't exist now. 


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