Police Community Support Officers could be replaced with unpaid volunteers

Police Community Support Officers could be replaced with unpaid volunteers

Government proposals would allow Chief Constables to axe paid PCSOs and replace them with unpaid volunteers

By Martin Evans, Crime Correspondent6:36PM BST 09 Sep 2015

Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) could be replaced with an army of unpaid recruits after the Government said it was considering giving Chief Constables the power to employ more volunteers.

Introduced in 2002, PCSOs, who earn up to £20,000 a year, help support front line officers by dealing with minor offences and anti-social behaviour.

While they do not have the powers of arrest they are able to hand out fines and detain a suspect while warranted officers are called to the scene.

Dubbed ‘plastic Bobbies’ critics have claimed PCSOs provide policing on the cheap, but supporters insist they play a vital role in community and neighbourhood police work.

However figures out last year suggested their numbers had dropped by a fifth as cash strapped police chiefs chose to axe PCSOs rather than front line officers.

Now the Home Secretary has announced a consultation which could pave the way for forces to replace paid PCSOs with unpaid volunteers.

As part of the proposals, volunteers would be granted the same powers as their paid PCSO colleagues, allowing Chief Constables to slash their salary bill.

Lincolnshire Police has already appointed a number of volunteer PCSOs, and the scheme is likely to be popular with other forces desperately trying to balance the books amid budget cuts.

But critics fear forces may struggle to recruit enough high calibre volunteers to make the scheme work.

Will Riches, Vice-chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales said: “We believe the public deserves a properly resourced, highly skilled and fairly remunerated workforce.

“This Government’s proposal for a new tier of police volunteers, given new (and as yet unspecified) powers, sounds like a half-way house between paid, employed PCSO’s and Special Constables.

“While we support any reform that will genuinely improve policing nationally, this proposal comes at a time when core Officer numbers are being slashed and budgets cut everywhere.

He added: “The bottom line here is that however many volunteers are recruited, however keen and willing they may be, however many responsibilities are given to them, unpaid recruits cannot make up for sufficient, properly trained and resourced officers.

“Recruiting super-volunteers is no more a solution to the challenges of policing, than a nurse putting a little plaster on a patient who is bleeding to death.”

News of the consultation came on the same day that the Metropolitan Police announced it was considering axing all 1,000 of its PCSOs.

The Met said it was looking at all options but with Government spending cuts expected to reduce its budget by £800 million over the next four years, getting rid of police staff is regarded as one solution.

Public and Commercial Services Union general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Axing all of London’s PCSOs would be the death knell for neighbourhood policing and mean far fewer officers on the beat in our communities acting as the eyes and ears of the Met.”

But Theresa May, the Home Secretary, defended the proposals insisting it would increase flexibility within the workforce.

She said: “Police officers across the country carry out a wide range of duties, keeping the public safe and ensuring justice for the most vulnerable members of society.

“We value the essential role they play, but they cannot do this on their own. I believe volunteers can do more, helping forces to create a flexible workforce, bring in new skills, and free up officers’ time to focus on the jobs only they can carry out.

“This Government wants to encourage those with skills in particular demand, such as those with specialist IT or accountancy skills, to get involved and help the police to investigate cyber or financial crime, and help officers and staff fight crime more widely.

“This Government is committed to finishing the job of police reform and we intend to legislate in the upcoming Policing and Criminal Justice Bill.”

One comment

  • theunhivedmind

    These PCSOs have no power over the Englishman, they have no rights to detain anyone! In order to be detained you have to be under arrest otherwise you are free to walk or run away in front of a Police Officer or even a Police Constable under English Common Law the highest law of the land. PCSOs are impersonators of police officers and both don’t come close to a Police Constable acting as a peace officer working lawfully under Common Law. If people want to volunteer to for this type of role then they should speak to Roger Hayes and get trained as British Peace Officers helping to remove the tyrannical treasonous filth from the Blessed Isles of Albion.

    .·´ ¸.·★¨) ¸.·☆¨)
    ★(¸.·´ (¸.*´ ¸.·´
    `·-☆ The Unhived Mind

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