Police defend vetting procedures

SUFFOLK Constabulary has said it would not automatically block people with criminal records from becoming police community support officers (PCSOs).The statement came after it was revealed one PCSO working in the county has a criminal conviction resulting from an incident in 1968.

SUFFOLK Constabulary has said it would not automatically block people with criminal records from becoming police community support officers (PCSOs).

The statement came after it was revealed one PCSO working in the county has a criminal conviction resulting from an incident in 1968.

The officer in question was convicted for an offence of being drunk and disorderly but is now employed by the force, earning between £16,000 and £18,000 a year.

Simon Stevens, spokesman for the force, said: “Suffolk Constabulary follows Association of Chief Police Officers guidelines when selecting PCSOs.


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“Anyone who has a criminal record involving a number of offences is likely to be rejected. This includes people who have received a formal caution in the last five years or committed an offence such as a violent crime.

“Other elements that are taken into consideration include the time since the offence occurred and the age of the applicant when the offence occurred.

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“In this particular case, the offence refers to a single spent conviction for drunk and disorderly behaviour.”

There are currently 47 PCSOs working in Suffolk, with another 16 starting work yesterday.

They have various powers, mainly centred on the ability to issue fixed penalty notices.

These include tickets for offences such as cycling on the footway, dog fouling and littering. They can also confiscate alcohol in designated public places, remove abandoned vehicles and regulate traffic.

The introduction of PCSOs in 2003 was greeted with controversy. Critics argued that the new officers cost almost as much as fully-qualified police officers but had only a fraction of their power and training. The government, however, sees PCSOs as a highly visible and effective tool in addressing anti-social behaviour and petty crime.

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