PCSO's for hire to raise cash for force

CASH-strapped Suffolk Constabulary is considering hiring out its police community support officers (PCSOs) in a bid to raise extra money, it emerged today.

CASH-strapped Suffolk Constabulary is considering hiring out its police community support officers (PCSOs) in a bid to raise extra money, it emerged today.

The hard-up force, which is currently exploring a number of ways of increasing its revenue, could employ PCSOs with the intention of offering them to town and parish councils in return for a fee.

They could even be hired out to businesses, the county's new university or bus companies, to carry out specific duties such as site patrols or deterring yobs.

The force, which has announced it is hiking its council tax precept above inflation for the next financial year, said the proposals were at an early stage.


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Gulshan Kayembe, chairwoman of Suffolk police authority, said while the move could reap financial benefits, it could also help reduce crime.

She said: “At the moment, this is a germ of an idea.

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“Community safety is much more of a community responsibility - it's not just police business anymore.

“The notion behind this idea is that partners, particularly councils, could put some money into funding PCSOs.

“We could also involve businesses and ask them 'where do you want PCSOs and what do you want them to be doing?'

“A lot of the crime we get in Suffolk is less of the higher level crime and more low level offences, which are problems PCSOs can deal with.

“I'm a fan of PCSOs. They are able to get into the community and get to know people, particularly the young.

“That supports a stronger engagement and has an impact on crime prevention.”

The University of East Anglia already funds PCSOs, while in London, Camden Borough Council teamed up with the Metropolitan Police to pay £300,000 for 18 PCSOs to patrol Camden Town.

In Bedfordshire a bus company is using PCSOs to keep an eye out for anti-social behaviour, while in Hertfordshire, the Colney Fields shopping park has two PCSOs which patrol it - one paid for by the police and the other by the shopping centre.

Councillor Phil Green, Safer Ipswich portfolio holder, said: “A PCSO presence is advantageous and the training the officers receive has always been as good in this region if not better than the rest of the country.

“We've seen both regular officers and specials in attendance at football matches and there is not a great difference in their duties and responsibilities as far as crowd control is concerned.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “Suffolk police is exploring the possibility of employing additional PCSOs through joint funding initiatives.”

Should PCSOs be available for hire? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

PCSOs: Factfile

They are required to wear a uniform which identifies them as a PCSO - but distinguishes them from a police officer

They receive full training

PCSOs are an integral part of Safer Neighbourhood Teams, together with Police Officers, Specials and staff from partner agencies and organisations.

They tend to focus on foot patrols

PCSOs have limited powers, which relate mainly to minor street offences.

PCSOs can issue fixed penalty notices in respect of:

Cycling on the footway

Dog fouling

Littering

Alcohol consumption in designated public places

Abandoned vehicles

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