Policing plans hit by shortfall
By News reporter
HOPES for better community policing across Ilminster, Chard, and Crewkerne have been hit by news that the Avon and Somerset force is cutting nearly 200 support officer posts from its future plans.
A gaping hole in the amount of money given to the Avon and Somerset Police Authority by the Government means it will be forced to cut the planned number of police community support officers for the force as a whole by 195.
Last week, councillors in Ilminster expressed their concerns on new arrangements for the so-called Neighbourhood Policing initiative to Insp Neil Pitman, of the Somerset East sector, which includes Chard, Ilminster and Crewkerne.
Insp Pitman attempted to reassure councillors that high levels of cover would be maintained but councillors were worried officers would be overstretched.
Now the Avon and Somerset Police Authority, which is responsible for the force's funding, is also worried.
Its chairman Moira Hamlin said: "The announcement concerning the revision of PCSO targets for 2008 is of particular concern.
"It would reduce the number of PCSOs we expected to have by 195. The authority and force have been fully committed to Neighbourhood Policing, believing strongly that this is the right direction for policing our communities in the future.
"Over the last month we have taken our Neighbourhood Policing roadshow to five different areas in the force.
"The announcements concerning funding and the PCSO targets were only made last week, so we need to look very carefully at the full potential implications.
"In the meantime I am writing to all our MPs and I am also taking this up directly with the Policing Minister."
Dr Hamlin said she was also concerned that other specific Government funding streams and grants had been frozen in cash terms for the last two years.
After the funding announcement, Yeovil MP David Laws said: "This is very disappointing news for the police as it will mean less officers on the beat.
"Our police force has found PCSOs the ideal complement to regular officers in delivering services in the community and a reduction will leave a gaping hole in the constabulary's plans.
"I have written to the Home Secretary, John Reid, asking him to re-consider his position in light of the relative under-funding of Avon and Somerset Constabulary and the important role PCSOs play in our area," he added.
8:18am Sunday 17th December 2006
TOP COP HITS BACK AFTER FUNDING CUT
09:45 - 06 January 2007
Humberside's police chief has criticised the Government for cutting the number of community support officers.
As previously reported in the Scunthorpe Telegraph, Humberside Police Authority chairman Graham Stroud and Chief Constable Tim Hollis appealed to the Home Office, following a decision to cut funding for Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).But their pleas have fallen on deaf ears and the cuts, announced in November, mean instead of funding 332 PCSOs by March 2008, the Home Office will only pay for 210.
Chief Constable Tim Hollis said: "I am very disappointed by the decision to cut the funding. I always think of myself as a man of my word and it frustrates me when someone goes back on theirs.
"We budgeted for this funding and now our plans will have to change as we will not get it. This I have to accept and get on with the job, but it doesn't make it any easier.
"The decision has been made nationally and I don't think the implications for Humberside have been considered. The Home Office has been quick to criticise us before and we often do poorly in league tables, yet when we have the opportunity to make good something they take it away."
He said PCSOs had received a lot of support from the community and added: "I am genuinely disappointed and feel particularly let down."
Coun Stroud said: "The decision to withdraw promised funding is a severe blow to our financial plans in respect of neighbourhood policing.
"It is particularly disappointing the Government, which pledged so much to policing and continues to place neighbourhood policing as one of its top priorities, has now reneged on its own promises.
"We still believe neighbourhood policing is the way forward, but the promised funding will not be available.
"I feel the Government's stated commitment to policing is now called into question and this decision appears to prove it."
North Lincolnshire Council Humberside Police Authority representative, Glen Phillips, also spoke of his disappointment.
He said: "PCSOs make a vital contribution to policing and to have this funding withdrawn is terrible.
"The public tend to trust them more as they generally come from the area which leads to better intelligence and a better ability to fight crime.
"It is truly disappointing."
Government slammed by MP
By Steve Sowden
YEOVIL MP David Laws has criticised the Government's decision to cut funding for Police Community Support Officers which will result in a reduction of 195 in the Avon and Somerset Constabulary.
Mr Laws has written to the Home Secretary, John Reid, calling on him to restore the original plans for extra PCSOs.
David Laws said: "Further to the Government's announcement that they were withdrawing funding for plans to increase the numbers of PCSOs nationwide, it has been confirmed that this will mean a reduction of 195 in Avon and Somerset Constabulary.
"This is very disappointing news for the police as it will mean less officers on the beat.
"Our police force has found PCSOs the ideal compliment to regular officers in delivering services in the community and a reduction will leave a gaping hole in the constabulary's plans.
"I have written to the Home Secretary, John Reid, asking him to reconsider his position in light of the relative under-funding of Avon and Somerset Constabulary and the important role PCSOs play in our area."
15th December 2006
Funds slashed for support officers
By Louise Acford
The Government has withdrawn nearly £2 million of funding for the county's police community support officer scheme.
Sussex Police Authority has been forced to reduce the number of PCSOs it was planning to recruit across Sussex this year.
By the end of this year, they had planned to bring the number of officers in the county to 525 but this figure has now been reduced to 270.
The authority has responded with "frustration" at the news and said it is unlikely the £1.8 million reduction in the Home Office grant will be diverted elsewhere within the force.
Authority chairman Peter Jones said they would struggle financially from 2008 onwards because of a lack of funding and would have to make "significant changes to how the Force is run".
He said: "If, as we expect, existing funding levels are cut in the medium term, it will be a struggle to meet cost increases essential to maintain current services let alone invest in other crucial areas such as major crime, road policing and counter terrorism, which we are charged by Government to develop following the collapse of its ill-fated force-merger proposals.
"People have indicated to us they would be prepared to pay more council tax for their policing but we really don't want to do that.
"We have delivered savings worth nearly £20 million this year alone.
"It is high time Sussex's position as a poor relation in policing terms was addressed by Government and the £6 million plus gap between us and the average shire force closed."
A spokesman for the authority said it was too soon to say where efficiency savings and cost cutting might be made.
Community support officers were introduced in 2002 to provide extra police presence on the streets.
Earlier this year, The Argus revealed they were being placed in schools in a bid to improve safety.
Brian Stockham, chairman of Sussex Police Federation, said the PCSOs provided a valuable but "limited" service.
11 December 2006
Cuts in police community support officers blasted
By Rob Devey
THE number of Police Community Support Officers planned for Bolton is being slashed following a reduction in Government funding. It had been hoped the town would have 90 PCSOs by April, 2008 - 39 more than at present. But the total number has now been reduced to 70.
The cuts have sparked angry criticism from Greater Manchester Police chiefs.
Chief Supt Dave Lea, head of Bolton police, said: "The simple and stark fact is that we're now not going to be able to have the numbers of visible uniformed patrolling officers we had planned." The Government has decided to cut funding for PCSOs nationally from £340 million to £235 million.
Money remains in place to recruit 16,000 more across the country by April, 2007, but funding for a further 8,000 over 2007/08 has been lost. The 974 PCSOs Greater Manchester Police had planned to recruit by April, 2008, is likely to be slashed by about a third.
Government policing minister Tony McNulty said he and Home Secretary John Reid had accepted police advice that 24,000 PCSOs were not needed.
But Cllr Cox said: "What the police asked for was flexibility to use the money for PCSOs to recruit more regular officers or more office staff to put existing officers back on the beat. "The Government has reduced the number of PCSOs but we are not getting the money back."
Cllr Cox said the force was losing 201 police officers during 2006/07, with seven of them in Bolton. He added. "We wanted to retain officers at their current levels and add PCSOs to the mix."
Chief Supt Lea, said: "This is a real disappointment because we had planned our deployment and delivery of safer neighbourhood policing based upon what we were told by the Government. "The numbers of visible uniformed patrolling officers are just not going to be there because I can't find that money from any other source.
"We are going to have to get our thinking caps on because we've made committments to the public of Bolton." Bolton currently has 51 PCSOs. They do not have the power of arrest but can detain a suspect for 30 minutes and have limited powers to tackle problems such as anti-social behaviour.
11:19am Tuesday 26th December 2006
Police 'shock' as £3.5m cut from recruitment budget
Kent Police are “shocked and disappointed” at a Home Office decision to cut £3.5 million for police community support officers from April next year.
Kent Police Authority had budgeted for an extra 474 police community support officers (PCSOs) by April 2008.
But now Kent and Medway will only have funding for 273 posts that are already planned to be recruited by next spring.
The authority and force are now assessing what can be done to make up the shortfall and say they are committed to ensuring every neighbourhood has a dedicated named officer or team by 2008.
Chief Constable Michael Fuller said: “We are obviously concerned that the amount allocated to us is being cut.
“This quite clearly could affect the speed at which we deliver neighbourhood policing and the cover we provide.
“We remain totally committed to every neighbourhood having a named officer or team so that we can work with residents and local organisations to tackle local problems locally.”
Ann Barnes,Chairwoman of the Kent Police Authority said: “I’m shocked the Home Office has withdrawn from our police community support officer funding to the tune of around £3.5 million.
“The authority has budgeted for over 400 new posts and now the Home Office has pulled the plug.
“It’s very disappointing that we are now around 200 police community support officers short of what we were expecting and this will obviously have a huge impact on our neighbourhood-policing programme.
“We will have to overcome this the best way we can to make sure the people of Kent get the neighbourhood policing they deserve.”
POSTED: 06/12/2006 KentNews.co.uk
Cuts plan revealed by police
By Ian Singleton
POLICE bosses considered cutting 99 officers to pay for controversial community support officers, it has been revealed. But today Coun Malcolm Doherty, the chairman of the Lancashire Police Authority, pledged that officer numbers would not be reduced to fund CSOs, who have been hailed a success in the county, but have been dubbed "plastic police" by critics.
And Steve Edwards, the chairman of the Lancashire Police Federation, called on bosses to honour the pledge, declaring it would be "absolute folly" to cut officers in favour of cheaper CSOs.
By 2008 Lancashire police will have 630 CSOs, who have limited powers to tackle low-level crime in communities, such as anti-social behaviour and dog fouling.
But forces have only been given government funding for the posts for three years and by 2008 the local police funds may have to meet £2.2million of the bill.
A report by a finance manager to the Lancashire Police Authority revealed that one option given consideration was cutting 99 officers from the 3,500 force strength to help pay for CSOs.
Some 84 of these officers would be replaced by cheaper new recruits, meaning 15 officer posts would be lost overall to save money.
However Coun Doherty said "I don't think that is a scenario we would ever consider."
Tuesday 4th July 2006
Police civilian jobs under threat
Community Support Officer recruitment may also be scaled back.
Plans to employ more police community support officers (PCSOs) across Bedfordshire may be scaled back even further as a funding crisis bites within the county force.
Beds Police has already seen hopes of having 199 civilian beat-walkers dashed by a reduction in Government funding, leading to a revised target of 128.
But with other money worries also besetting the constabulary, PCSO numbers may now have to be kept at the current level of around 72.
The recruitment freeze – which would hit the force's hopes of setting up new neighbourhood policing teams – was one of the options facing the police authority at a meeting on Friday as it struggles to cover a £2.6 million hole in its books for the next financial year.
According to a police authority report, an extra £200,000 needs to be set aside in next year's budget to pay for interpreters, "due to some victims and criminals being unable to speak English".
Another £100,000 is required to cover the rising costs of the forensic service, and more cash has been earmarked to pay for borrowing needed to help fund a replacement for Greyfriars police station.
In all, a £2.634 million cash shortage is looming next year, and the police authority is considering three options to cut costs.
One would see spending on reducing road casualties slashed, leading to the loss of five police officer posts.
The second involves the recruitment target for PCSOs being lowered from 128 to 100, and the third would mean the current strength of 72 being maintained.
Mr Conniff said: "There is no easy option when trying to reduce the budget as all the things that we do are required to be done. But at the same time we have to prioritise within priorities.
"That's a hard job to do, but it's the reality of a lower budget and escalating costs and overheads."
16 December 2006
PCSOs reduced in funding cut
By Claire Ward-Willis
THE number of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) planned for Somerset will be drastically reduced after the Government announced funding cuts this week.
The Government had said it would fund 16,000 PCSOs next April and a further 8,000 the following year, but it has now shelved the funding plans for the second year of funding.
That means the number of extra PCSOs planned for the Somerset West force area will have to be cut because of lack of cash.
The news has caused concern in police forces around the country.
Dr Moira Hamlin, chairman of the Avon and Somerset Police Authority, said: "The announcement concerning PCSO targets for 2008 is of particular concern.
"It would reduce the number of PCSOs we expected to have by 195.
"The authority and force has been fully committed to neighbourhood policing, be-lieving strongly that this is the right direction for policing our communities in the future.
"Over the last month we have taken our Neighbourhood Policing Roadshow to five different areas in the force.
"The announcements concerning funding and the PCSO targets were only made yesterday, so we need to look very carefully at the full potential implications.
"In the meantime I am writing to all our MPs and I am also taking this up directly with the policing minister.
"The police authority is fighting hard to ensure we can deliver our commitment to neighbourhood policing."
The plans have also been strongly criticised by Taunton MP Jeremy Browne.
He said: "I share the widespread public concern about crime and anti-social beha-viour.
"I want to see a greater visible police presence in our towns and villages.
"Some progress has been made in getting more police out on patrol and working alongside local community groups," he ad-ded.
"I regularly meet with senior police officers in Avon and Somerset and I know they are committed to a neighbourhood policing agenda, so the recruitment of far fewer PCSOs in Somerset is a serious setback."
He said he had asked the Government to stick to its original funding plans.
9:18am Friday 1st December 2006
Police force facing crisis
IN June, Durham Police's chief constable, Jon Stoddart, travelled to London to beg the Government for extra money.
Mr Stoddart said his force would face serious financial difficulties in the next few years if it did not receive help from the Government. He said Durham Police had been penalised for its past good financial management and said the force would be £8m in the red in two years.
Today, it emerges that the situation is more serious.
Mr Stoddart told The Northern Echo last night that unless the Home Office agreed to give the force more money, he would have to shed up to 300 police officers.
But how can this happen to a force that is consistently praised for its low crime rates and prudent financial management? It was only two days ago that Durham was praised as mostly excellent or good in the Government's police performance assessment.
According to the force, the major cause of its financial crisis is an unfair funding formula. Durham Police has an annual budget of more than £105m, but has made efficiency savings of £17m in the past few years. In June, Mr Stoddart said that a few years ago, some police authorities had dramatically increased precepts, but Durham had not.
Since then, the rise in council tax has been capped at an increase of five per cent. This means those authorities that had higher precepts a few years ago receive a bigger increase in real terms, while those such as Durham, which has the second-lowest council tax precept in the country, get a comparatively small increase. In June, Mr Stoddart said: "We are falling further and further behind everyone else."
However, despite his trip to London, the Government did not give Durham extra money. On top of that, when Government plans to merge police forces across the country collapsed, Durham Police said it was £350,000 out of pocket. It has been preparing to merge with Northumbria and Cleveland police but, in July, the plans fell through. Durham Police asked the Home Office for a refund but, to date, has not received any money.
The Home Office said that, on a like-for-like basis, Government grant and spending on the police will have increased by 56 per cent, or almost £4bn, between 2000-1 (£7.072m) and 2007-8 (£11.047m). Last night, Mr Stoddart said "a sensible and considered" plan had been drawn up to meet the financial challenge. He said any reduction in front-line officers would be kept to a minimum, and he has promised more special constables and police community support officers.
Mr Stoddart said other forces in the country were facing similar financial problems. Councillor Anne Wright, chairwoman of Dur-ham Police Authority said: "We have been making the Government aware of this for some time, alerting them to the problems on the horizons. "The Government needs to do something about this now. "We need £10.5m over three years, £6m next year, or these cuts will go ahead."
North Durham MP Kevan Jones said that while the merger plans were being discussed, the issue of funding was temporarily forgotten. He said: "The Government kicked this into the long grass while it was talking about mergers, but now it needs to sort this out as soon as possible." Mr Stoddart said: "Representatives of the police authority, the Police Federation and the trade unions are key players in this process, and will continue to be involved at every key stage."
Senior managers will meet to discuss detailed proposals at the end of next month.
9:29am Thursday 26th October 2006
Policing promise 'broken by Labour'
THE Government was yesterday accused of ditching a manifesto promise, after it announced its target of 24,000 police community support officers (PCSOs) in England and Wales was being scaled down to 16,000. Policing Minister Tony McNulty said he and Home Secretary John Reid had accepted police advice that 24,000 PCSOs were not needed. But Liberal Democrat spokesman Nick Clegg said the reduced target made "a mockery" of Government "hype" about providing the reassurance of a uniformed presence in the community.
Since their introduction in the Police Reform Act 2002, numbers of uniformed PCSOs have swelled to 7,000 in England and Wales. They patrol streets on foot in many neighbourhoods, but do not have the lengthy training or powers of arrest of a full police officer. Labour's 2005 General Election manifesto promised a £340m-a-year fund would take their numbers up to 24,000.
But in a written statement to Parliament, Mr McNulty said: "The Home Secretary and I accept the argument put forward by the Police Service itself that the delivery of neighbourhood policing does not need 24,000 PCSOs. "This settlement therefore provides continuing support towards 16,000 PCSOs in 2007-8 and we will not expect forces to increase the number of PCSOs beyond that number." He was announcing a proposed 41 per cent increase to £315m in grant allocation to police authorities in 2007-08.
But Mr Clegg said: "This is a straightforward breach of a Government manifesto commitment to roll out full neighbourhood policing teams across the country.."
28 November 2006
COUNTY POLICE FACING MAJOR FUNDING CRISIS
BOSSES at Leicestershire Police Authority are struggling to fill a funding gap of more than £3million.
Byron Rhodes, Vale councillor and authority chairman, said the authority has managed to make the required savings for the last financial year but the forecast for 2006/7 does not look good.
And a meeting will be held today at police headquarters in Enderby to address the issue. Mr Rhodes said that one of the most immediate knock-on effects could be a drop in the number of people employed.
"If we have to make savings then that means fewer people, which is an emotive issue for everyone."
Regarding whether the cuts would mean fewer police officers or fewer staff, Mr Rhodes said it could well be both. "The staff are an integral part of the police operation, they are the people who deal with special operations, work in our forensic labs and take emergency calls. "One way in which this saving scheme could impact is that regular police officers may have to perform the work of staff members, and thus be stretched even further."
He said the funding crisis could also affect the number of community support officers – a vital part of the fight against anti-social behaviour.
Mr Rhodes said that the authority's troubles were exacerbated by Government plans to reduce the size of grants by 2008. "This police authority has a history of being under-funded, and any money we don't have now will have implications long into the future." He could not give any idea of how many jobs would be on the line as analysts at the authority were still crunching numbers.
The authority is currently in the process of putting a request through to the Home Office to cover the costs of a major consultation on the now disbanded issue of merging police forces.
27 July 2006
Fears over the cost of police support officers
Jul 21 2006
POLICE entered the lion's den by giving a presentation about the value of police community support officers (PCSOs) in a village which has already given them the cold shoulder.
Sergeant Gareth Woods, of the PCSO project team in Winsford, told a police forum in Malpas about the benefits of rural communities financially supporting the scheme from the parish precept.
But in the audience were Malpas parish councillors who have already rejected stumping up £11,000 a year for an officer and double that if two were needed. '£20,000 would virtually double the Malpas precept,' said Cllr Charles Higgie.
Tattenhall parish councillor Norman Sharp said: 'A lot of residents will say we are already paying for the police service. They will say we are paying twice for the same service and why should we?'
City Cllr Doug Haynes (Ind, Tattenhall) agreed: 'The concept is a good one. I don't have a problem with the concept, but I would have a problem with financing it.'
Cllr Haynes believed it was unfair that people living in the urban areas would benefit from PCSOs but would not be charged because there was no mechanism for levying the tax.
Kath Stephenson, of Hoole United Reformed Church, wondered if area committees in the urban area might be a way of funding PCSOs in the city, which is not widely parished.
Derek Bowker of Project Rural Matters asked if the Home Office element of the funding - 65% of the cost - would continue in the long run or would it all eventually fall on local taxpayers.
Sgt Woods said the Home Office was committed to recruiting 24,000 PCSOs nationwide by March 2008. There are currently 79 in Cheshire but the target is for this to rise to 353.
Sgt Woods said: 'Certainly in the areas where the PCSOs currently operate they are very popular and very successful and really do complement the work the police constables do.'
He said PCSOs could confiscate alcohol from under-age drinkers and issue fixed penalty notices for illegal parking, littering, dog fouling and criminal damage.
They could also seize vehicles which were being driven in an anti-social manner.
Funding cut hits police
By Therasa Paul
FEWER police community support officers will be recruited in Hampshire next year, following a cut in funding of £2.7m for the county's neighbourhood policing.
The Government had promised £9.2m to Hampshire Police Authority in 2007/08 for the recruitment of 539 PCSOs over the next 15 months.
However, when the provisional grant settlement was announced it was revealed that Hampshire would only get a one-off grant of £535,000 for neighbourhood policing - meaning 206 fewer PCSOs for the county.
The chairman of Hampshire Police Authority, Mike Attenborough-Cox, said: "Neighbourhood policing is a top priority for us - we know it is what the residents of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight want and expect.
"While it may be perceived as a good thing that the Government is providing us with a grant to be used how we see fit, it is shocking to learn of the reduction in settlement.
"This is a major U-turn by the Government, given the commitment made earlier in the year."
He added that the PCSOs already in place across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight had been very successful.
"It is extremely disappointing to learn that communities are not going to benefit in the way we had anticipated.
"Initial indications show that the total grant Hampshire is likely to lose over the next two years is £5.8m.
"We are currently working on how we can best use the number of PCSOs we have, but it is inevitable that this will mean spreading numbers thinner.
"It will be difficult to achieve the level of neighbourhood policing the Government demands with 206 fewer officers."
He stressed that the situation did not change the police authority's determination to deliver "the best police service possible within the resources available."
The Government's target of 24,000 PCSOs nationally has been reduced to 16,000 with a total loss to police forces of £60m.
8:49am Saturday 16th December 2006
EVIDENCE of the crime fighting abilities of police community support officers (PCSOs) is needed to persuade councillors and residents in Abbots Langley to pay for additional support in the village.
Speaking at the parish council's meeting last night (Monday), Dave Moore, chief inspector of Three Rivers, said PCSOs are "unique" and make people feel "much safer".
But residents questioned their value, unconvinced with their visability on the streets and whether their limited powers can stop anti-social behaviour in the village.
Abbots Langley already has two PCSOs, but under a buy one get one free' scheme set up by the police and Hertfordshire County Council, any amount of funding a council puts forward to pay for new officers will be matched.
Just one will cost £28,500 per year and the parish council would have to raise the Council Tax precept by an average of £2 (for a Band D property) to pay their half.
The council will then enter a two-year agreement to pay that sum, but afterwards, the total cost will be paid for by the police.
Councillors concluded they needed to see crime figures before they can make a decision, which must be made before next year's budget is set.
Sara Bedford, parish council chairman, said: "We're trying to get as many views as possible before making a decision. The money will not come from existing budgets - residents will have to pay for it.
"We have to feed it into next year's budget so if we are going to do it, something will have to be decided by next month's meeting."
Residents can still inform the council of their views, by contacting Janice Dawes, the parish clerk, on 01923 265139 or 260462.
Council withdraws cash for community police
COUNCILLORS have pulled the plug on a £300,000 a year scheme to fund police community support officers in Huntingdonshire.
Huntingdonshire District Council has been paying the money so Cambridgeshire Constabulary could employ an extra 14 PCSOs - nearly half those on the streets in the police Central Division.
But now the council's cabinet has decided to withdraw the money, although it does not want the number of PCSOs to drop. The council, which is making savings, wants extra Government cash, designed to boost the number of PCSOs, to take over the funding. Huntingdonshire started funding the PCSOs in 2003 and may have been unique in spending its money in this way.
There was concern the council was putting money into something it was not responsible for and residents were paying twice for policing. Coun Ian Bates, council leader, said: "It was the right idea at the time and this is the right idea now."
He said the idea of funding the PCSOs had been "very successful" and had helped develop close local links with the police. Coun Bates said: "This is a win for everybody, a win for the council and a win for the police. Nobody is a loser."
He said although the council was looking to save money, the withdrawal of the PCSO money was unlikely to have taken place if another source of cash had not appeared.
Coun Bates said the council was still involved in initiatives to help combat crime. The council could cut its contribution to £215,000 this year and the money be taken away entirely in 2007-08.
Government money from the Neighbourhood Police Fund will support recruitment of additional PCSOs, 109 in the current year rising to 178 in 2007-08.
About a quarter would be deployed in the Central Division. The council wants officers it funded to be transferred to funding from the new money and says this will be cheaper for the police, who will not have to pay start-up costs of raw recruits.
A Cambridgeshire Police Authority spokesman said it had been aware of the council's position and had factored it into its calculations.
The authority believes the Home Office should fund the bill because of the Government's commitment to extra PCSOs, but warned "very difficult choices" would have to be made if the Government did not fund the fast-tracking for the scheme.
03 July 2006
Taxpayers to pay community officers bill
28 June 2006 06:45
Council tax-payers will be forced to foot the future costs of the government's community policing initiative, Norfolk Police Authority warned yesterday.
The Home Office has contributed an extra £1.09m on top of an original grant of £1.05m to speed up the introduction of police community support officers (PCSOs) across the county. PCSOs are uniformed neighbourhood officers with some policing powers, such as the ability to issue fixed penalty notices.
While welcoming this funding, a meeting of the Norfolk Police Authority was told that once this has been spent the force must meet annual costs of at least £500,000 - an increase of 1.2pc in the force's council tax precept.
At the same meeting, members discussed plans to cut jobs across the force because of forecasts that government funding in the coming year will increase below inflation.
Authority member Harry Humphrey said: "The government has grabbed headlines about PCSOs, but in effect all they are giving us is an extra half a year's funding. There is no money for accommodation and little money for training.
"We value and welcome this initiative but there is concern that the government is promising all this wonderful work but police authorities are expected to pick it up and fund it."
Meanwhile, the authority has approved a strategy aimed at reducing costs in preparation for an increase of just 2.7pc in government funding for 2007. The force estimates that it needs an increase of about 6pc to meet existing commitments.
One recommendation of this strategy is that up to 40 jobs be cut by April next year. It is hoped this can be achieved by reviewing vacant posts.
Assistant chief officer Rupert Birtles said: "We cannot just wait and see what happens. We may get to the point where funding is four or five million pounds below what we need. It is only sensible that we identify our priorities now."
After the meeting, authority chairman Stephen Bett said the public demand for PCSOs was clear but said there was "serious uncertainty" about Home Office funding. "In the long-term it is unclear which direction the Home Office is going to move in," he added.
The new funding means that by the end of this year the number of PCSOs in Norfolk will double to 138 - a target originally set for April next year. This will rise to 189 by April.
In Suffolk there will be 142 PCSOs by April 2007 at a cost of £1.72m and in Cambridgeshire there will be 195 costing £1.98m.
Norfolk chief constable Carole Howlett welcomed the expansion , saying said she did not envisage problems recruiting PCSOs as increasing numbers have expressed an interest in the post in recent weeks.
Community crime fighters scrapped
Sep 21 2006
A BITTER political row erupted yesterday after a community crime fighter scheme was scrapped.
Wrexham councillors voted to get rid of the Neighbourhood Warden initiative amid claims the issue had become a political football. Instead, the lead coalition of Liberal Democrats, Independents and Conservatives agreed to reinvest in new community police support officers.
But the Labour group insisted the wardens should have been kept and accused the lead group of washing away the good work. The wardens were brought in under a previous Labour-controlled Wrexham council to patrol troubled areas including Caia Park and Johnstown.
Before the decision to axe the scheme was taken there was provision for 13 in Wrexham.
On Tuesday councillors agreed a new plan which will get rid of the wardens by the end of March next year.
The council will invest £100,000 in the development of a pilot ASB Intervention Team to include 12 PCSOs additional to 48 scheduled for Wrexham under a government grant.
From April 1 2008 the authority will further invest in the continuation of the PCSO initiative up to a maximum of 25% of the salary costs for the PCSOs.
Labour group leader Neil Rogers accused the coalition of washing away the good work.
"We are already paying a precept for the police and now people are going to have to pay again under these plans to fund additional officers.
"We are extremely disappointed but not surprised by this decision.
"And we feel that the wardens, employed by the council, have not been treated fairly at all.
"The scrutiny panel consistently said to keep the wardens but this has been ignored.
"This has become a political football and as Neil Kinnock said, we should not play politics with people's jobs."
But council leader Aled Roberts claimed the new plans offered far better value for money for the county.
"It is the Labour party in Wrexham that has turned this into a political football," he said.
"They said the neighbourhood warden scheme was going to be extended to all wards but had made no provision for that.
"My position is that all residents of the county borough should be entitled to the same level of service rather than a few select wards.
Mr Roberts said the PCSOs was a Labour government scheme, but they had made no commitment to fund them further after the startup.
He claimed 15 neighbourhood warden schemes in other local authorities had already been scrapped by Labour councils.
West Norfolk to get 89 more 'police'
A massive recruitment drive will soon be in full swing to get 210 new police community support officers on the beat in Norfolk by April 2008. The Government has vowed to cover part of the cost but taxpayers look set to make up the multi-million pound shortfall.
The officers will join 70 existing PCSOs in the county and will each be assigned to specific areas to create the new generation of village bobby.
Chief Superintendent Ray Adcock, who is in charge of the project, billed safer neighbourhoods, said: "PCSOs will get local knowledge and be able to deal with the quality-of-life issues which really affect people's lives. It is the most significant change in policing in recent years."
Five new PCSOs due to arrive in Lynn in the next couple of months as a result of £3.7 million allocated to West Norfolk Partnership will be the first of the 89 officers due in West Norfolk.
But the borough will have to wait until eastern and central parts of the county have completed their recruitment before the majority of its new officers are taken on.
Ch Supt Adcock said somewhere had to be chosen as the first area for the roll out and it was the east, where recruitment has already begun.
The Home Office is pushing through mass recruitment of PCSOs across the country alongside plans to create regional police forces, which looks set to see Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire and many other regional forces combined by April 2008.
Norfolk had been working toward a target of taking on 138 of the new officers by next April but is waiting to find out the impact of a Budget announcement by chancellor Gordon Brown, in which he said recruitment must be accelerated. It could mean up to 180 of the officers must be in post by the end of this financial year.
The Government has vowed to fund the first three-and-a-half months salary of each £26,000 officer in their first year of employment and half of their wages in the second year.
Based on those figures if 138 PCSOs are taken on this year and 142 next year, Taxpayers will be left to cover a shortfall of almost £8.1 million in the first two years.
25 April 2006
Prison Officers PCSOs H A T O S Windsor Safari
Prison Officers H A T O S Police Community Support officer