Sunday, 17 December 2017

Concerns about the loss of PCSOs

My article in this coming week's Cornish Guardian looks again at the potential loss of PCSOs. It will be as follows:

Some nine months ago, I wrote about the new Police and Crime Plan (2017-2020) for the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and raised concerns about the proposal to phase out more than half of their Police Community Support Officers.

I am a strong supporter of PCSOs and appreciate the fantastic work they do across Cornwall. Local officers have been very effective in their roles, they understand local communities and have built strong working relationships with Parish Councils and other bodies.

It is my view that a reduction in their numbers will have a devastating impact on community policing and, along with a number of other Cornwall Councillors, I have repeatedly challenged the Constabulary on this matter and requested a rethink to this aspect of their Plan.

I was therefore pleased when the Crime and Police Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, spoke at a Cornwall Council briefing in late September and indicated that she and the Chief Constable were going to review the extent of reductions in PCSOs.

You can imagine my disappointment, last week, when I attended a China Clay Area network meeting at which a representative of the Commissioner seemed unaware of any lessening in the PCSO cuts.

We were treated to an update about the Neighbourhood Policing Review, now known as “Project Genesis,” but it is fair to say that there was considerable frustration in the room.

The report referenced “consistent communications” with local stakeholders and communities, which was not what the people present had experienced.

We heard about the possibility of volunteering roles and “the scope for neighbourhood special constables,” a “new demand modelling tool,” as well as “specialist training programme” plus “activity analysis” and “transitional arrangements.”

It all seemed a bit vague, but we were informed that the number of PCSOs had already fallen from 360 to 280 and the intention was still to reduce them further to only 150 across the whole of the force area.

I remain extremely worried at possible changes to the community policing in my home area and elsewhere across Cornwall, and it is my intention to continue to challenge the Police Commissioner and others on this issue.

Colleagues and I are already preparing for the next meeting of the China Clay Area Network on 12th February, at which Alison Hernandez herself has promised to be in attendance and to personally consider our concerns.

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