Wednesday, 23 May 2018

In support of PCSOs

It is some fifteen months since I first wrote about the Police and Crime Plan (2017-2020) for the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, and raised significant concerns about the proposal to phase out more than half of the Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).

At the time, we were informed that the number of PCSOs would be cut from 360 to just 150 across the whole of the force area (Cornwall and Devon).

It is well known that I am a strong supporter of PCSOs and really appreciate the fantastic work they do in our local communities. As I have written many times before, I consider that the officers have been very effective in their roles, understand local communities, and have strong working relationships with Parish Councils and other bodies.

Along with many other councillors, particularly my colleagues in the China Clay Area, I have repeatedly lobbied the Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, on this matter. And I was pleased when, at a Cornwall Council briefing (September 2017), Ms Hernandez indicated that she and the Chief Constable were going to review the reductions in PCSO number, which they suggested were actually too onerous.

I was therefore extremely disappointed to attend another update, last week, about the Neighbourhood Policing Review, now known as “Project Genesis.”

It was stated that the local police force had to react to “changing priorities,” but would retain the “ethos” of community policing and do nothing to undermine “connectivity” with local communities.

And yet, the presentation simply trotted the old line that the number of PCSOs would be cut to 150, and there was no confirmation about any lessening of staff cuts as previously stated by the Commissioner.

It remains my view that the loss of PCSOs would have a devastating impact on community policing, particularly in rural areas, and the key priority in the Police and Crime Plan of “Connecting Communities and Policing” would be massively undermined in many areas, including the parish that I am proud to represent as an elected councillor.

I have once again written to the Police and Crime Commissioner and asked her to rethink the PCSO cuts, and confirm that rural communities in particular will not lose out as a consequence of “Project Genesis.”

If you agree with me on this matter, please join me in making yet more representations to Alison Hernandez.

[This is my article in this week's Cornish Guardian].

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