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Suffolk police to axe half its PCSOs - but increase safer neighbourhood teams by 100 officers

PUBLISHED: 15:02 17 July 2018 | UPDATED: 08:43 18 July 2018

Suffolk Constabulary is proposing to cut half of its PCSOs Picture: GREGG BROWN

Suffolk Constabulary is proposing to cut half of its PCSOs Picture: GREGG BROWN

Half of Suffolk's police community support officers (PCSOs) are facing the axe as part of cost-saving measures - but the force insists it is "taking the fight" to criminals.

Chief Constable Gareth Wilson said the changes showed the force was listening to concerns  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNChief Constable Gareth Wilson said the changes showed the force was listening to concerns Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk Constabulary announced a proposed restructure today, which would see more than 100 police officers move into safer neighbourhood teams (SNTs).

The force said the changes would help it deal with increasing demands and satisfy the public’s desire for more visible policing.

However, to achieve the SNT increases amid a £2.3 million budget deficit, it is proposing to reduce PCSOs from 81 to 48 full-time equivalent posts. The force has 107 budgeted PCSO posts, but has not filled vacancies since 2017.

UNISON said it would mark a 78% reduction in PCSOs since 2010 – and criticised the decision as “reckless”.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said he fully endorsed the proposals  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said he fully endorsed the proposals Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The force said it would ensure the “right resources are in the right place at the right time”, while putting visibility at the “forefront of policing”.

Chief Constable Gareth Wilson said local policing is the “bedrock of our service” and the proposals show “we really do listen to the public’s concerns”. “This is about taking the fight to the criminals,” he added. “It’s about ensuring that our staff stay on the front foot to keep the people of Suffolk safe.”

Mr Wilson said moving officers to SNTs will “allow us to be more effective”. “We have had to make some difficult decisions about the composition of our future workforce and the blend of skills and abilities we will require,” he added. “However, we acknowledge the value of PCSOs and are still committed to them continuing to play a key role within communities.”

Mr Wilson said an increase in 999 calls as well as reports of crimes including sexual offences made it necessary to “refine” the current model. However, he said there were no plans to completely axe PCSOs, as in Norfolk.

Consultation will last until August 30, with changes to be implemented by October 29.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said the changes would mean more officers available for local policing.

“I fully endorse these changes, which I am pleased to say increases the number of front-line local police officers and as Police and Crime Commissioner, I will be monitoring the impact of this new model to ensure the people of Suffolk are getting the police service they deserve,” he said.

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