PCSO ROLE PAGE 1 of 2
1 August 2007
Members of the public walking into police stations have always been met by either Station Reception Officers (SROs), police officers or a member of the Met’s volunteer programme – until now, that is. From last month, a new batch of specially trained PCSOs began working in station receptions for the first time, having completed a three-week foundation course.
It’s all part of a move by the Met to improve the service it provides to the public and to increase the number of people available to deal with the 175,000-plus crimes reported at police stations every year.
“Our main intention is simply to increase the number of trained staff working in station receptions, which will help improve the service that members of the public receive when they come in to report a crime,” explains Alison Versluys, a member of the front counter project team.
“Because the Met has been given extra money to employ and train more PCSOs, that gives us the opportunity to expand the number of front counter staff by developing Station PCSOs (SPCSOs).”
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ADDRESSING SRO CONCERNS
As a result of the move, which will eventually see SPCSOs take on all station reception roles, Sunil Nair, from Territorial Policing, says there have been understandable concerns from SROs about their futures.
“We know that there are concerns among SROs and these mainly centre around how long they will continue to work in their current jobs, as the long-term intention is to migrate all SROs to SPCSOs,” he says.
“Negotiations are ongoing between the management and the unions about the terms and conditions of existing SROs. We recognise the value, skills and experience of the SROs and appreciate the service they are delivering.”
Despite these concerns, Alison adds that the move could have benefits for everyone. “The project is about putting sufficient staff in front counters to manage demand,” she explains. “By creating the role of SPCSO, the Met is enhancing the career pathway for PCSOs, together with other roles, and the added bonus is that it will free up more offi cers to carry out frontline police duties – meaning we will have more people on front counters and more offi cers patrolling the streets.”
In addition, Alison adds, SPCSOs will also spend some time each month on patrol, assisting their local Safer Neighbourhoods (SN) teams, leading to a greater police presence on the streets.
As well as providing more staff to work on station front counters, the move to bring in SPCSOs also entails giving more responsibility to PCSOs.
John Rose has been a PCSO for three years and has just started working at the front counter in Belgravia. “The key for me is very much the variety aspect of the new post. While I have enjoyed being a PCSO and will continue to do so, working alongside SN officers two days a month, the chance to learn even more is great,” he says. “The role of PCSO is already really varied, but I am learning more new skills all the time. For example, I now use the CRIS system to log crimes and information, and also file missing persons reports using the Merlin system. In addition, I get to retain the skills I have learned by working as part of an SN team.”
Donnett Osseni has also been a PCSO for three years and began working on the front counter at Rotherhithe Police Station in June.
She agrees that her new position has added variety to her job and is giving her more experience. “I joined the Met because I had always wanted to do a job where I could help people but which had variety as well,” she says. “Being a PCSO has certainly allowed me to help people, especially working as part of an SN team, where we were dealing with the specific problems highlighted by local residents and businesses. Now, becoming a SPCSO is adding even more variety to my job, as the types of queries and crimes being reported – such as credit card fraud and domestic abuse – are much broader.”
In addition, John says the benefits are not restricted to him: “I feel the new role is helping to improve the service we provide out of the station, as there are now more of us and I bring my own experience with me, having worked closely with the public for the past three years.”
John’s manager, Sergeant Seamus Hansford, agrees: “Having more people available to us is really good news – it helps us provide a quick and effi cient service to the public.
And John has brought his own set of skills. Having worked out in the community, dealing with residents, he already has many of the attributes we need to continue providing a first class service."
WHY NOT JUST TRAIN MORE SROS? "To improve service at front counters and deal with the hundreds of thousands of queries they handle each year, the Met needs to train and recruit more people. But the Met’s budget has been limited for the coming year. Funding for PCSOs, however, which comes from a separate funding stream, means the Met is able to recruit and train PCSOs to do the job, which is why SROs are being replaced with Station PCSOs."
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1 August 2007
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Warden jobs on the line
By David Connop Price
Thursday 25th October 2007
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THE community wardens patrolling parts of Basingstoke and Deane are facing the axe.
The award-winning 20-strong team would be replaced and £120,000 redirected into five new police community support officers (PCSOs) under the proposal by the Conservative-led administration.
However, the plan has already provoked a furious response from opposition Labour councillors, with one branding it a betrayal of community safety.
The wardens were introduced by the borough's then controlling Labour-Liberal Democrat administration in December 2003. They spend most of their time patrolling to provide visibility and reassurance to residents, but also report environmental issues and contribute to community development.
In 2004, Hampshire County Council introduced eight accredited community safety officers (ACSOs) to the borough with similar powers, but also enforcement powers to tackle dog fouling and people riding bicycles on pavements.
And in April this year, Hampshire Constabulary introduced 25 PCSOs into the borough.
If the proposal is approved, three wardens would move to the council's seven-member community development team and one support officer to its community safety team. The rest would face redundancy if jobs cannot be found for them.
Borough council leader Councillor John Leek explained: "The Cabinet believes residents would prefer to know they have PCSOs throughout the borough. We also think there's some confusion between PCSOs, ACSOs and community wardens."
He said the borough would have a say where the five extra PCSOs operated and they could be used borough-wide. Community wardens are limited to nine areas.
The wardens proposal is in a three-year plan the Cabinet will consider on Tuesday, and in a community safety and community development review for the sustainable communities overview committee on November 17.
Cllr Leek said the public and the council's partner organisations are being urged to have their say on the proposal and the three-year plan as a whole.
"We recognise anything in the three-year plan is open for consultation, and where the response is 100 per cent against we would have to re-decide," he said.
Wardens patrol in Buckskin and Kempshott, South Ham, Brighton Hill, Overton and Whitchurch, Bishops Green and Tadley, Bramley and Kingsclere, Winklebury, Oakridge and Popley.
The scheme received a national award for innovation in 2004 and a distinction in warden quality standard in 2005 from the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit at the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
The proposal being considered would save the council about £255,000 a year, with the rest of its £525,000 warden employee budget going towards the new community safety initiatives. Kingfisher and Sentinel housing associations provide an extra £50,000 towards the wardens.
Labour councillors have blasted the Conservative administration's proposal.
Labour leader Cllr Gary Watts said: "We think it will have a detrimental effect on community safety. It's part of ongoing cuts across council services."
Cllr Sean Keating, who extended the warden scheme to rural areas when he was the Cabinet member for community safety in the Labour-Liberal Democrat administration, said the PCSOs would not do everything the council wanted because they worked to a police agenda.
He said: "We go from a fixed arrangement to an uncertain one and I find that appalling." Cllr Keating claimed that community wardens were an important safety influence at a time when the police were not responding to calls to the new 101 non-emergency number. "The police response in Basingstoke is appalling and that is what we will have to rely on," he said.
He added expansion of the community development team, which deals with health, youth and minority issues, would be no substitute for people on patrol.
"This is a blatant betrayal of the people of Basingstoke in terms of community safety," he said.
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Cool welcome for blitz on illegal town centre parking
Oct 19 2007 By Antony Quarrell Maidenhead Reporter
FRUSTRATIONS remain with the town's parking situation, despite recent improvements.
Kuldeep Ahir, president of Maidenhead and District Chamber of Commerce, has welcomed recent improvements in the town's parking situation.
Nevertheless, he has pledged to lobby for further improvements.
Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) have been cracking down on rogue parkers in the town centre recently.
The clampdown, which has involved specifically tasking two PCSOs to patrol the town centre, came after lobbying by the town part-nership, royal borough and chamber of commerce.
In June, the month before the new initiative, 74 tickets were issued by the PCSOs.
But numbers jumped to 330 in July and 274 in August.
Inspector Mark Millward, of Thames Valley Police, said PCSOs were continuing to issue an average of 300 parking tickets a month in the town centre.
Mr Ahir, said: "The chamber is glad to see parking enforcement back in place. We have been lobbying for this for some time and illegal parking has a major effect on businesses in
Maidenhead, especially the High Street East area of the town.
"We are pleased to see a joint initiative with the town partnership, the council and the chamber, resulting in things moving forward for the town."
However Mr Ahir commented: "The chamber is still very frustrated with the parking situation in Maidenhead, especially with the lead up to Christmas.
"The council have annoyed many shoppers with the changes to make the Nicholson centre a pay and dis-play and also they just can't to get parking right at Sainsbury's."
He added: "This enforcement is good news, but the chamber will continue to lobby the council for more improvements."
Swindon Latest News
PCSOs have to let tagger go
By Gareth Bethell
A TAGGER who was caught red-handed by a member of the public walked free when police told him there was no-one available to deal with him.
Two Police Community Support Officers were sent to confront the boy, who had been placed under citizen's arrest by council worker Richard Butler.
Mr Butler had seen a group of teenagers spraying the walls of the House of Fraser car park.
He intervened and detained the boy with the spray can in his hand.
The PCSOs decided to arrest the youngster, but as that was beyond their powers they called for a police officer to carry out the duty.
However, when they radioed through they were told no-one was able to come and deal with the boy.
Mr Butler, 56, said: "I was disgusted. I made an effort. I knew there was a big campaign going on to stop this graffiti and I thought I was just doing my bit to catch these people.
"The PCSOs were only allowed to detain them for half an hour. That's why they called the regular police to come and arrest them.
"They didn't have anyone available so they had to let them go.
"The PCSOs were annoyed themselves. These lads walked off calling them all the names under the sun."
The Adver launched a campaign to tackle graffiti earlier this year, working with the police and the council. There have been a number of taggers arrested.
The council has even offered cash rewards of £100 to catch the most prolific graffiti artists.
Mr Butler, from Grange Park, said: "I was going for my tea break and as I walked around the corner I saw a group of about five lads spraying the wall with an aerosol," he said.
"I made a citizen's arrest on the one with the can and I told him I was doing it for criminal damage.
"I took him back to the office and called the police and two PCSOs turned up.
"I told them what happened. He still had the aerosol can. They asked him various questions and they said they would call for a regular police officer.
"They got on the radio and were told no one was available so they had to let them go.
"With that they said I'm afraid we're going to have to let him go'.
12 October 2007
SCHOOL CONSIDERING PEAK TIME TRAFFIC BAN
PEAK-time traffic could be banned completely from outside a Melton school as part of a new initiative to beat dangerous congestion. Teachers at Sherard Primary School, in Grange Drive, are working with police to form the voluntary 'sterile zone' after a child was almost hit by a car last term.
Headteacher Alison Wright said: "We had one near miss last term where a girl had to be pulled back by a parent to avoid being hit. We have also asked for a 20mph speed limit as other schools have. "What would really have an effect is this new zone system on part of Grange Drive at times in the morning and afternoon, but it depends on highways officials."
If successful, the school would be the first in the county to have a voluntary agreement with parents to operate a 'sterile zone'. The zone would only be brought in following discussions with parents. Residents of Grange Drive would still be allowed to use the road at all times.
Pc Spike Yeoman, area community beat officer, said: "What we are trying to look at is something working in conjunction with a walking train – the aim is to stop traffic going up to the area by applying a scheme where only residents can use the road at school times. "It would keep cars away completely and keep the gates clear, allowing children to cross the road to school in safety."
Other ideas include plans that would involve narrowing the road outside the school to introduce a one-way system. Last term the school ran a project encouraging children to design their own speed cameras to raise awareness on the dangers of driving too fast.
Local community support officers have also been vigilant around the school, issuing tickets to illegally-parked cars.
Mum and governor Rosalind Heatlie said: "There are problems with parents not obeying the road markings – it makes it quite dangerous. "This zone would help a lot but there are other things such as encouraging walking. I always walk my two to school." Craven Ward councillor Frank Moore-Coltman, a school governor, said: "A sterile zone around the school would definitely make some difference but we're also asking the county council to look into speed cameras as well. There are some now that pick you up when you come into an area and follow you until you leave the site. "We all know the area in general has a major speeding problem, it's a question of how to tackle it."
If successful in gaining a 20mph zone the school would join existing schemes outside the Grove School, in Asfordby Road, and St Francis Primary, in Dalby Road.
A spokesman for the county council's highways department said: "We are considering whether to introduce a 20mph zone outside the school that could be linked to a voluntary sterile zone covering the drop-off and pick-up times. "Extending the pavements and having a one-way system to deter parking could actually increase vehicle speeds outside the school and inconvenience people using the route outside of school hours." firstname.lastname@example.org
07 November 2006
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Zero tolerance on... parking
09 May 2007
POLICE are joining traders with shopkeepers in Clevedon to crackdown on inconsiderate parkers in the town.
Hill Traders Association has joined forces with police community support officers to launch a zero tolerance drive against people parking badly in Hill Road.
The move comes after complaints from traders that people who work or live in the road are parking up and leaving their cars all day - resulting in no space for shoppers. Police community support officers will be patrolling the streets over forthcoming weeks, putting fluorescent notices on cars warning them to move on after two hours. Hill Road Traders Association chairman Bob Hughes said: "The parking in the road has become a real issue. There are a lot of people who live in the road or work here and are just leaving their cars all day.
"This means there are no spaces for anyone wishing to spend a couple of hours shopping in the street and it is having an impact on business. "In Hill Road there is no official car park so people just use the on street parking as an alternative."
Letters have now been sent out to all residents and traders warning that anyone found flouting the two hour parking limit in Hill Road risks being caught and issued with a fine.
Clevedon Police Community Support Officer Linda Richards said: "Notices will appear on car windscreens to remind motorists that the area is two hour free parking area with no return within two hours in a high profile effort to stop the problem. "Tickets will also be issued to those that flout this rule.
Police support officers aren’t police
I read with interest the letter from Mark White, secretary of the Sussex Police Federation (Letters, May 1).
Even more interesting was the picture on page 20 - Claire Truscott's article on the recent terrorist trial. The caption again read, "Police officers on patrol."
They were not police officers in the picture, but police community support officers (PCSOs).
Sussex Police has recently replaced the royal blue PCSO epaulettes with black ones featuring letters and numbers, just like regular officers.
I am a serving police officer, not with Sussex, and I attended an incident recently which was policed entirely by Sussex PCSOs.
The event in question is a regular event and one which Sussex Police knows attracts underage drinkers and troublesome youths.
One such youth started to mouth off to one of the PCSOs, who could do nothing about it as he was not a police officer. He had to just stand there and take it.
Thankfully, I was there on an unrelated matter and stepped in to intervene and defuse the situation. Had I or any other police officer not been present, the PCSO's nearest back-up from the police was at least a 20-minute drive away. This is unacceptable. The PCSOs should never have been on their own in the first place.
They may be an asset in certain situations, but PCSOs are not police officers and they should be stopped being treated as such by their bosses.
They should not be sent into situations which they are not equipped to handle.
8th May 2007
PCSOS CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THE COMMUNITY
THE South Wealden Neighbourhood Policing Team gave its quarterly report to Hailsham Town Council at last week's meeting. Amongst the issues raised were the work of Police Community Support Officers and how they are supporting the work of the police in the town.
Inspector Claire Stephenson said that in the period between December and February, the Hailsham PCSOs had undertaken 11 seizures of alcohol from underage people, dealt with six abandoned vehicles which had been reported and removed, 75 vehicles with expired tax discs, and had issued 38 fixed penalty notices for illegal parking and six Section 59 warnings which is where a vehicle is being used in an antisocial manner.
Insp Stephenson said, "The town PCSOs also continue to work closely with the staff at Prospects House, and will often call in to visit the people who use the facility.
"This has the very positive effect of making them feel more secure, and more confident to approach the officers if they encounter problems whilst out in the community.
"The PCSOs are also in regular contact with the newly appointed housing officer on The Diplocks, and they work in partnership with him to attempt to solve problems on the estate as they arise.
"They also regularly visit the Youth Café in the town, and are currently canvassing the youngsters there about what other facilities could be included."
Insp Stephenson added that alcohol test purchase operations are continuing in Hailsham and since they began on a regular basis, the results have been encouraging.
She said, "During the first of these operations, we were encountering approximately a 50 per cent failure rate.
"However, I am pleased to say that for the last two operations in the town, we have had a 100 per cent pass rate, where every licencee refused service to the young people.
"This is really encouraging. It shows our licencees are taking the issue seriously, and that they are playing their part in making it more difficult for our young people to have access to alcohol."
21 March 2007
27 January 2007
Support officers urged to avoid physical action
By Jason Bennetto, Crime Correspondent
Published: 26 January 2007
Thousands of police community support officers have been told to avoid physical intervention. The decision, which follows legal advice, was condemned yesterday by one police leader as a "crazy situation".
The legal warning by the Metropolitan Police comes as the Home Office is recruiting 16,000 civilian reinforcements, known as Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), throughout England and Wales.
Leaders of the country's frontline constables are worried that the civilian officers are being used as cut-price replacements who have little impact on crime. But ministers and chief constables say the officers can deal with anti-social behaviour, act as the "eyes and ears" of the police and provide the public with reassurance.
The review of the role of PCSOs states: "The policy is designed to discourage PCSOs from entering violent situations." The report continues: "There is no positive duty for PCSOs to intervene; they are police staff, not police officers."
PCSOs have no power of police arrest and were derided as "plastic policemen" when they were first introduced in 2002. Glen Smyth, the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: "Most people will see them as authority figures who bear the word 'police officer', they will not expect them to move away. It's a crazy situation."
Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Met, who has pioneered the use of support officers since they were introduced in 2002, said he did not want them to have any more powers. He said the PCSOs were partly responsible for the recent big successes in reducing crime in London.
|A day in the life of: Cara Lewis, Community Support Officer |
The 31-year-old former receptionist, works in the Harrow Road area of Paddington, central London, as a PCSO. She earns £25,000 a year for doing 10-hour shifts, 16 days a month.
1pm briefing at Harrow Road police station.
1.35pm on the street as part of team of PCSOs and police officers.
1.40pm patrols a junctionknown for drug users and prostitutes.
2.25pm visits a road where people meet to drink and take drugs.
2.30pm walks to an address where suspicious activity reported.
2.45pm visits a housing estate where previous problems were reported.
3.40pm looks out for unlocked doors and gates
4.10pm general patrol.
5pm dinner time.
6.05pm back at busy junction.
6.30pm to 9.35pm Repeat checks on various sites. Does a name check on two known individuals to find out whether they are wanted or on Asbos.
9.40pm return to theoffice to do paperwork.
Police reception officers could face unemployment
Civilian staff employed by the Met Police are facing an uncertain New Year after a leaked email revealed they could be out of work by April. The Met is proposing to reconsider the role of station reception officers (SROs) and replace them on the front desk with Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
Staff at Chiswick police station in the High Road are unhappy and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have released a statement blasting the Met for "taking the eyes and ears off the street in their agenda to police London as cheaply as they can".
One SRO at Chiswick who wanted to remain anonymous said: "It's scandalous to leave us guessing about our jobs, especially at this time of year. "We are either expected to do a harder job for the same money or move aside."
However, Superintendent Clive Chalk of Hounslow police insists the concept is at a very early stage.
He said: "The Met is exploring the role of the SRO and looking to expand what they do. It gives them the chance work in other areas."
He also emphasised that the PCSOs working in front offices will be well trained.
Reception officers are the first people that members of the public see when they enter a police station.
They also gather evidence which could be presented in court and are trained in dealing with vulnerable witnesses and victims of crime.
Their role mirrors that of police officers but they cannot make arrests.
The proposals would see SROs replaced by PCSOs, whose main purpose currently is to patrol the community and provide a reassuring presence and back up for police officers.
The decision was taken after the Greater London Authority agreed to give the Met 4,000 PCSOs to patrol the streets of London.
Paul Edwards, PCSO local representative, said: "We fear our jobs going will result in a real reduction in the face to face service local people get from the police.
"Coupled with this are plans to reduce every borough's 24-hour police stations which means that people in London are paying more but getting less policing for their money."
Sunday 31st December 2006
Let's unite to fight yobs in court
30 December 2006 12:09
Communities blighted by anti-social behaviour today called for the chance to tell courts for the first time about the damage they have suffered from crime.
Until now only individuals have been able to make representations to magistrates and judges, but groups affected by yobs now want a pioneering pilot scheme to be rolled out to Norfolk.
In a pilot scheme in Salford in Manchester, police community support officers will prepare a “community impact statement” as part of the prosecution file.
That could focus on issues such as public nuisance, vandalism, graffiti and property damage in the neighbourhood - all problems which families in Norwich have raised through the Evening News's Reclaim Our Communities campaign.
A separate programme being trialled in Camberwell in south-east London, will enable community organisations to tell the court what unpaid work they would like offenders to carry out in their area.
Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said he plans to visit Salford to see what work is being carried out there to create more bonds within the community.
He said: “What they are doing up there is potential useful for us. They are moving in the direction of much stronger community management, which is the kind of thing we are looking at.”
“I am hoping to go up there to see what they are doing, and this is exactly the sort of thing I would be keen to see if we could copy here. But you have got to have a reasonably organised community and at the moment there are very few areas which are sufficiently well organised.”
Families in Barrett Road have had to put up with yobs smashing windows, vandalising cars, shouting abuse and riding mini motorbikes on the pavement.
One man, who did not want to be named, said: “What they are doing in Salford sounds brilliant. Things have got quieter here recently because I believe the council has used Asbos on some troublemakers. But it sounds like they are going one step further in Salford.”
Hereward Cooke, leader of the Liberal Democrats at City Hall, has been trying to encourage people in his ward of Lakenham to keep records of anti-social behaviour and report them to the police.
He said: “This does sound like an interesting idea. I would be most interested to see how it works in practice.”
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Police have given residents at a Kirkham sheltered housing scheme hampers containing alcohol confiscated by officers.
More than 1,000 bottles and cans were taken from teenagers in an operation targeting the young drinkers.
The festive hampers were handed out by officers at the flats.
Police Community Support Officer Annette Begg has been organising distribution of the alcohol, which includes lager, cider and alcopops.
She said: "We have been saving all the booze we have collected from underage drinkers in and around the Kirkham area and basically we have now run out of room to store any more.
"We hope that by doing this some good will come from what has been a problem for our local communities.
"We hope that the recipients will be able to enjoy a glass or two over the Christmas period, making this time of year just that bit more special thanks to our local underage drinkers."
Special "youth nuisance patrols" have been under way in the area at weekends.
Prison Officers PCSOs H A T O S Windsor Safari
Prison Officers H A T O S Police Community Support officer