Sussex Police has announced every community in Sussex will have a named PCSO starting from next month.
The confirmation follows an investment in 100 extra PCSOs secured through local funding by the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner – bringing the total number to 296.
Assistant Chief Constable for Local Policing Julia Chapman said the decision will put ‘eyes and ears’ into every part of the county and give local people a direct point of contact for local policing issues and concerns.
When a new local policing model was introduced three years ago, we said it would be scalable. Now, thanks to this additional investment, we’re in a position to strengthen local policing and we know this is what local communities want to see.
Our PCSOs do an incredible job, every day, working alongside their police officer colleagues to prevent and detect crime and tackle anti-social behaviour in local communities.
This change means communities will soon begin to see and feel the benefits of their investment as new PCSOs are deployed over the coming months, where they will provide a visible policing presence and be a point of contact for local policing issues.
The change will take effect from 4th November, when all existing PCSOs will adopt responsibility for a defined geographical area, and continue to be rolled out over the coming months as additional PCSOs are recruited and deployed.
It comes in addition to recent announcements on the recruitment of 379 additional police officers for the county over the next four years, 250 funded locally and 129 through central Government funding.
In 2015 the force announced the numbers of PSCOs would be reduced by 30% and the Town Council were prevented from funding a dedicated PCSO. A couple of year’s later Town Councillors decided to employ a part-time Community Warden.
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne said:
My focus groups and conversations with local people clearly show that the public want PCSOs back in their communities, forming that essential and reassuring link with police.
Neighbourhood policing needed modernising five years ago and that included giving PCSOs the necessary skills to help support police officers and investigations.
Since then, Sussex Police have transformed PCSOs with more knowledge skills and powers, but at the same time keeping the best of the old model where PCSOs were known by their local communities.
I know that communities across the county will be delighted to hear that Sussex Police are making their PCSOs more accessible and more visible by increasing the numbers on our streets by 100 and providing a named PCSO for each ward area.
Speaking on the breakfast programme on BBC Sussex this morning, Angie Smith from Wealden Labour broadly welcomed the proposals but said the measure only partly addresses the huge cuts to the police budget. She referred to a community meeting attended by the District Commander last year:
I think one of the issues that came out when we have the police the meeting with police last year was that people actually would welcome just a visible presence on the street, so I think this announcement does go some way towards serving that.
I think just the sight of somebody in a police-type uniform patrolling the street is to some degree both a reassurance and a visible deterrent, but I have already made the point that this is not replacing like-for-like. There have been huge cuts. Sussex Police had to phase-out a thousand personnel by 2020 due to cuts they received to their budget from this government and it’s not resolving the issue entirely by any means.
PSCOs will continue to form part of wider local prevention teams, ensuring police resources are focused on the most critical issues, but spend more time in their dedicated area.
The uplift in PCSOs includes six new rural PCSOs who will provide specialist support and advice to those in rural communities with three based in West Sussex, two in East Sussex and one in Brighton and Hove.
The increase will help address some of the low level issues affecting communities, preventing the escalation of serious crime including violent crime.
The decision complements on-going transformation plans by Sussex Police to bolster local policing, improve public contact and modernise to remain agile and capable of responding to changing patterns of crime and vulnerability.
These additional PCSO posts are being recruited throughout the financial year with intakes of 18 in July 2019, 36 in September 2019, and 72 during two intakes in January and March 2020 under the PCSO apprenticeship scheme.
With natural attrition the force should achieve the target of 296 PCSOs by March 2020, although the last cohort will be in training and not deployable until the end of next summer.
The 100 new posts will be allocated based on demand with details available locally and on the Sussex Police website from 4th November.
Click to listed to the full interview on Neil Pringle’s breakfast programme on the BBC Sounds app (starts 2:27:27).