A review on the role of PCSOs in the community has been carried out by the police.
For the first time, PCSO funding has changed and their numbers could, in theory, be reduced to contribute to the required savings the police must make. So the review was conducted to give a comprehensive picture of what PCSOs do and how they are perceived by the community.
PCSOs have been working in Cambridgeshire for more than 10 years and their main role is being the public face of the police, patrolling our streets and supporting officers.
As part of the review, a survey was carried out, to which 104 Fenland residents responded. When asked whether they had seen a PCSO in the last 12 months, 57 people said they had not, while 46 had. Out of those, only 12 per cent had spoken socially to a PCSO and 11 per cent talked to them about an issue. However, 58 per cent said they were happy with this level of contact.
Partner agencies and representatives were also consulted. Cllrs Michael and Virginia Bucknor were the Fenland representatives and gave their opinions about PCSOs.
They said their contact with PCSOs has been limited to the last two years but they have found them to be “positive and pro-active”. They have noticed a decrease in contact but said they “definitely” add value to policing.
“They do the jobs you wouldn’t want a police officer to do,” they said. “You want a police officer to be focused on serious crime. PCSOs are the eyes and ears on the ground. They’re not as much as an imposing threat as police officers can be and they’re more approachable to the younger generation.”
Inspector James Sutherland, who carried out the review, said that PCSOs “play a valid and effective role in crime management across the force” but there is “clear scope to realign processes”. Some tasks given to PCSOs, such as house-to-house enquiries, have not helped investigations and are inefficient.
He concluded that the value of PCSOs is “beyond doubt” but he has identified “numerous avenues for reform”. Insp Sutherland believes that by taking on board the reforms he has suggested, PCSO budgets can be reduced but there are “no soft targets or an easily achievable reduction in numbers”.