Police chief offers PCSO assurance

 

A chief constable today sought to reassure the public that police were not being taken off the beat and replaced with community support officers.

David Crompton, Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, told the police authority meeting in Barnsley that reports of proposals to rebrand PCSOs were a "storm in a teacup".

The meeting discussed the update of the initiative, which has seen PCSOs in South Yorkshire become the first line of contact for the public in neighbourhood policing matters.

The proposals state that regular officers would be grouped into so-called "taskable teams" available to deal with serious incidents, with PCSOs, under the title local beat officer (LBO), carrying out grass-roots work on the streets.

Mr Crompton told today's meeting: "We aren't taking police officers away from areas they work, they will still be working in the same areas they have worked in previously, dealing with problems in the same streets, in the same communities.

"They will still be working in the same areas, they will not be stuck away in some police station somewhere."

The meeting was told that the proposals affected only neighbourhood policing, not the response teams.

Mr Crompton said: "If somebody needs a police officer, they will get one, in the same way they always have."

In a statement released earlier today, Mr Crompton described media reports as "inaccurate".

"Today's discussion in relation to PCSO powers and duties would not result in a removal of police constables from frontline policing," he said.

"PCSOs will continue their valuable role working alongside police officers and special constables in safer neighbourhood teams working in communities as they always have done.

"Our proposal is that we enhance their powers so that they can deal with more incidents that don't require a police constable with the powers of arrest."

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt added: "We are not removing any bobbies from the beat in South Yorkshire."

He said the new initiative meant that communities were not left without cover when police officers were taken away to deal with operations in other areas.

Mr Holt added: "We saw this paper as reinforcing our commitment to neighbourhood policing."

Many members of the police authority voiced their support for the initiative, which is already under way in South Yorkshire.

However, Councillor Shaun Wright, the mayor of Rotherham, told the meeting he had "reservations".

He said the use of PCSOs as a first point of contact was "leaving people exposed" and claimed it was a "risk too far".

He added that the proposals and the change of name to "local beat officer" would lead to confusion about accountability and the public's understanding of policing.

Cllr Wright suggested that the initiative was piloted in one district before being rolled out across the county if it was successful.

Mr Crompton said some details of the proposals needed to be looked at and suggested another review be put before the authority in September.

He said he wanted to gauge what the community reaction was to the changes.

Mr Crompton said: "It is extremely important as we go forward to gauge that reaction and build it into however we are structuring our policing in the future."

He added: "In times of financial constraints it is the force's duty to explore all avenues as we continue to strive to use the resources available to us in the most effective way and we will maintain an open mind as to how we achieve this."

Former home secretary David Blunkett, who introduced PCSOs, had raised concerns at the proposals and welcomed Mr Crompton's decision to consult the public on the new initiative.

He said: "I very much welcome a sensible approach, not only to hearing what people think, but also to clarifying precisely what is intended, how it differs from the immediate past and whether we are really moving back to hands-off policing or retaining the neighbourhood beat team approach."

Neil Bowles, chairman of the South Yorkshire Police Federation representing regular officers, told the Yorkshire Post: "We would oppose the proliferation of powers to PCSOs and would have concerns over accountability if further powers are given to them."

But Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said the move was "a serious departure from traditional policing where warranted police officers are out on the front line, can initiate arrests, conduct investigations and build community confidence".

"We should value the work of PCSOs, but their name implies their function, they were created to support frontline police officers," he said.

"The Government has initiated a radical and imaginative agenda as far as a new landscape of policing is concerned.

"The sole aim has been to get police officers back out on to the streets.

"This policy contradicts that stated aim. It will add to costs not reduce them - the PCSOs need to be trained and given experience in areas that they previously have not."

Adding that it was "no surprise" that other forces in Yorkshire seemed unwilling to adopt the proposals, he warned: "This is a slippery slope.

"In due course these new functions for PCSOs may be undertaken by, who knows, G4S or Serco. We do not want to go in that direction.

"When a member of the public calls the police, they expect to see a police officer, it's as simple as that."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Toure could leave Manchester City in the summer, claims his agent
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
News
media
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior C++ Developer

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Senior C++ Developer – L...

Part Time SEN Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a Part Time S...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Client Services Associate (MS Office, Analysis, Graduate)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client Services Associate (Microsoft Office, Ana...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz