Sussex force freezes PCSO applications

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The Independent Online

Applications by potential police community support officers (PCSOs) are being frozen, a force announced today.

Sussex Police said it was contacting 116 people to inform them that their bids to become PCSOs have been withdrawn.

Chief Constable Martin Richards said those people will be "incredibly disappointed" but that it was due to a situation "not of our making".

It follows the announcement earlier this week that budget cuts could lead to 1,050 posts being shed at the force, of which 500 are police officer posts.

Forces across the country have been making predictions of similar job losses ahead of next month's comprehensive spending review.

Mr Richards said: "As with police officer recruits, and in line with a number of other police forces, we have had to assess the likelihood of being able to progress these applications.

"We remain dedicated to local policing, but know we are unlikely to be able to employ as many new PCSO recruits in the foreseeable future."

A total of 47 people from the recruitment pool will be told they are being retained based on their skills, experience and geographical location.

Mr Richards added: "These people will be incredibly disappointed and I would like to thank them for their desire to join Sussex Police and their commitment they have already shown.

"I hope they understand this situation is not of our making and I would urge them to reapply once we reopen the door for recruitment. Unfortunately at this time I cannot say when this will be."

The Police Federation has said the Government should wake up to the reality of a "Christmas for criminals" as up to 40,000 police officers could be axed if 25% funding cuts go ahead.

The body, which represents officers in England and Wales, said forces would be left "devastated" and specialist departments - including those involved with child protection and domestic violence - would "disappear" as resources were diverted to calls needing emergency responses.

But Home Secretary Theresa May today rejected the warning that forces will be unable to cope with rising social and industrial tensions.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales in Cheshire, Mrs May said the British public "don't simply resort to violent unrest in the face of challenging economic circumstances".

She added that it was "ridiculous" to suggest that savings could not be made in the police service.