national-PCSOs.co.uk
undercover PCSO

On Wednesday 11 May 2005, the Daily Mirror broke with a headline news story, about their undercover news reporter Pete Samson, who joined the Met as a PCSO and went through the 4 week training period - emerging onto London's streets as a fully qualified PCSO with quite a lot to say.

11 May 2005
CRIMINAL TREATMENT OF COMMUNITY SUPPORT OFFICERS

DAILY MIRROR GOES UNDERCOVER
By Pete Samson

POLICE Community Support Officers are being sent in to the war on crime badly trained, ill equipped and terrified of walking the beat, a shocking Mirror investigation reveals.

An undercover reporter who trained as a recruit found CSOs crushed by low morale, frustrated at being given no power or protection and ignored by serving officers.

Some did all they could to avoid their duties, even during a bomb scare. Others dashed from crime scene to crime scene, arriving too late to help and ignorant of what to do.

One CSO told our investigator: "This is a s**t job. You just do all the things police officers can't be bothered to do.

jump to SITEMAP "It's supposed to make the public feel safer, but it's a fraud. We've no powers and you're advised to move away from dangerous situations because you're not properly trained.
"Meanwhile, you're stuck on the streets with no protection. The public don't take you seriously and call you 'Mickey Mouse' and Pcs don't even say good morning to you.
"There are no promotion prospects. I've never been in a job where morale is so low. Most CSOs spend more time trying to avoid work than actually working."

Tony Blair said last month the £21,000-a-year back-up officers are an "essential part of the fight to tackle crime and rebuild strong communities".
But after a four-week training course in a makeshift office, followed by 10 days' patrolling the streets, our reporter uncovered a catalogue of failings that make a mockery of the Government's boast:
Training and security were woefully inadequate. Police failed to check the reporter's bogus references even though he would have access to sensitive information and guard Downing Street, Whitehall and the Houses of Parliament.
Nervous recruits were not shown how to work a police radio, given insufficient personal safety training and left in confusion about what to do if faced with violence.

So many CSOs are being rushed through the system to make up a shortfall in manpower that candidates were helped through practical exams to ensure they did not fail.
One instructor told his class: "It's ridiculous - you can't fail the course. I'm sending people out on the streets who are simply not good enough. Most of the powers you've got, you're told not to use. You've got a raw deal and need protection."
Another told recruits: "You're not respected and treated like second rate staff. You've got no facilities and no teaching aids. You're not supported and neither are your trainers. If I was you I'd have walked out."

THE fiasco continued on the streets of London where our investigator was sent on patrol amid heightened fears of a terror attack at the time of the general election. He witnessed some CSOs avoid work as officers struggled to deal with a major bomb scare outside the fashionable Ivy restaurant without enough staff for the job.
A sergeant said afterwards: "That was one of the most genuinely scary moments of my career. Thousands of people could have died because we didn't have enough manpower."

At one point our reporter was sent ALONE to patrol Whitehall - once guarded by 14 Pcs - after being warned "Al-Qaeda might want to make a point".
In an alarming indication of failures in regular policing he also watched in horror as two officers refused to stop a known sex offender because he had wandered off their "patch". His colleague said: "A woman could get raped tonight because a Pc couldn't be bothered to cross the road."

This is investigator Pete Samson's disturbing diary:

APRIL 29: I arrive at Charing Cross police station for my 7am-7pm first shift as recruit CW 7286. A briefing immediately reveals the divide between Pcs and my CSO colleagues.

Constables sit on one side of the room and CSOs on the other. There is no communication between the two sides and hardly even any eye contact.
AT training school we were told we would have more practical training once on the job. That does not happen. I am told I am on "IC4".
It is not explained to me what that means and 30 minutes after arriving I am on the beat in Leicester Square. Nobody has even shown me how to use my radio.
The first serious incident I am involved in shatters my confidence in my new employers.

MY colleague and I are approached by two plain clothes officers from Southwark branch who have spotted a known sex offender mingling with tourists and revellers in the square.We are asked to radio for uniformed officers to attend the scene and question the man.
By the time the officers arrive the sex offender has crossed the road. But when we point him out, the officers refuse to walk 50 yards to stop him because he had wandered off the patch of our police station, Charing Cross.

One officer tells us: "I'm not going over there. It's not our ground. If the Southwark officers want to stop him they can. I'm not chasing him around all night." My CSO colleague is disgusted. He tells me: "Welcome to the Met. You're going to have to get used to that. A woman could get raped tonight because a Pc couldn't be bothered to cross the road."

As the pubs begin to kick out after closing time, my colleague is approached by a group of drunk and distressed girls who claim they were physically assaulted in a bar.
He does not take a statement and tells the girls there is nothing he can do. I am later told how to handle drunks - "As long as they can walk, just send them on their way."

As we tire, we kill an hour resting in a police CCTV van manned by another CSO. After our refreshment break, we then move to Whitehall for the second half of our shift. We are meant to be protecting some of Britain's most important buildings. Instead much of our time is spent hiding in doorways, out of view of CCTV cameras, so we can lean against the wall and rest our legs.

APRIL 30: Another 12-hour night shift. We are sent to Whitehall again to check sensitive areas including the Lib Dem HQ.

But some colleagues - not those on patrol with me - neglect their duties by "hiding" in McDonald's and a nearby police station.
During our break at the station a package feared to be a bomb is found outside The Ivy restaurant, haunt of the rich and famous.

Frantic police try to get all pedestrians and cars out of the area but are overwhelmed and unable to clear the streets.
Meanwhile several CSOs enjoy an extended refreshment break playing on fruit machines and listening to the "excitement" on their radios.

My sergeant tells me: "For a while I was really worried. There were thousands of people in the area and we didn't have the officers to get them out of the way."

Later a man is killed near Leicester Square. The regular Pcs are a model of efficiency. But the CSOs fail to contribute. We are acting like little more than professional rubber-neckers. MAY 6: A 7am start. With Labour re-elected in the previous day's election, we are warned at a briefing that al-Qaeda "might want to make a point".
My partner and I spend much of the morning drinking tea in a cafe, give a few tourists directions and return a wallet found by a member of the public to the station.

MAY 7: My partner oversleeps so I spend the first hour patrolling Whitehall on my own.
Apart from armed police outside Downing Street, I am the only uniformed presence in the area despite having just four shifts experience. I am genuinely concerned.

We spend the afternoon in Leicester Square. We are told youths are threatening members of the public. We pretend to follow them, before walking off.

MAY 8: VE Day and I am drafted in early to help with security, being given details about Prince Charles's movements during the day.

I guard the gate where the prince arrives for a memorial service. In the afternoon I stand alone, guarding his wreath at the Cenotaph.
Later, I am stopped by a restaurant worker who claims a family is refusing to pay for a meal. I speak to the suspect and call up help. Three officers arrive and tell me I can leave.

In the afternoon I patrol with a Pc. He shows me how to stop people under the Terrorism Act. We stop a car carrying two Asian men and also stop two tourists from Uzbekistan. Both Asians and tourists are clearly upset by our attentions.

CSOs were introduced in 2002 by then Home Secretary David Blunkett. He said: "They will act as the eyes and ears of officer colleagues and be a highly reassuring presence."
Labour pledged to increase the number of CSOs from 5,000 to 24,000 in their manifesto. But a study by researchers from Leeds University released in October found the scheme has wasted time and money.
Their report said: "We encountered concerns that CSOs were uncertain what to do beyond walking their beat as a 'reassurance beacon' or 'mobile scarecrow'. A central challenge is to ensure CSOs patrol with a purpose."

The Home Office said: "The training and recruitment of CSOs is a matter for each force. CSOs are an important weapon and have a key role to play in freeing up police officer time. Forces nationwide are reporting an enthusiastic and supportive public response."




The PCS response

Date: 11th May 2005

Dear Sir,

As a representative of the PCS trade union who represent well over 90% of the Police Community Support Officer's in the Metropolitan Police Service, I am writing in reply to your lead article of yesterday regarding PCSO's.

Whilst agreeing with some of your general sentiments regarding a lack of support from Police Officer colleagues and concerns about the quality and depth of the training that PCSO's receive, I do not feel that the sensationalist tone of your article will do anything to address these or any of the other very real issues faced by PCSO's and will merely serve to further demoralise an already embattled workforce.

Your article makes mention of PCSO's as "professional rubber neckers" and failing to "contribute" at a murder scene. As a PCSO, your reporter would be fully aware of the limits of PCSO powers in such situations. You are surely not suggesting that the PCSO's at the scene should have been involved in forensic evidence gathering and the like, instead of acting within their powers, keeping the public away from the scene. Perhaps your newspaper would prefer this job to be done by fully trained, fully equipped Police Officers instead. I notice that your newspaper has previously taken a strong line on the issue of police numbers so I doubt that.

It's clear from your article that your reporter has intended from the very outset to write a negative article about PCSO's and the issues surrounding them. In that sense, well done and congratulations, you have succeeded. I trust that tomorrow's paper will be headlined by some of the undoubted scandal that you have uncovered regarding Police Officers and the complete waste of resources involved in employing uniformed Police Officers in civilian positions. Somehow I doubt that, it doesn't fit the political agenda of the moment I'm sure.

The vast majority of PCSO's, while realising the limits of the profession, are proud of their jobs and persevere in the face of adversity both from the Police Federation and others, a job that is not in any way made easier by attacks such as yours.

Yours faithfully

Brian Simmons

Brian Simmons

PCS Group Executive




The MET response

Sir Ian Blair's response to the Daily Mirror:

In an article in today’s [11 May 2005] Daily Mirror an undercover reporter, who worked six shifts as a PCSO in the West End of London, makes a series of allegations.

The Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair has responded by saying:

‘We are looking carefully at the comments made by this journalist to see if there are any lessons to be learnt for the Met.

PCSO training is reviewed on a regular basis. The latest review on Monday showed that current training is about right. Clearly there are some PCSOs who would like to be able to do more than their current training and powers allow, but PCSOs have a particular role to play. Spending all of their time on the streets as a visible and reassuring presence allows PCSOs to get closer to the communities of London. Getting involved in violent confrontations and arrests would detract from this vital role.

Quite frankly, the experience of this journalist during his brief time with the Met is inconsistent with most people’s experience. Fellow PCSOs who actually worked alongside the journalist have already said how they enjoy their role and are upset by what he has said. As you will have seen from many other newspaper articles, most Londoners are supportive of PCSOs, as are those operational police officers who have worked alongside PCSOs on a daily basis. In addition to the generally high standard, we have some outstanding PCSOs who have produced some excellent results, including those who have been awarded Commissioner’s Commendations for their work.

PCSOs are an essential part of the policing of London and I want to restate my total support to all our staff, particularly to those on the front line who patrol our streets day in, day out to make London safer.’

Bulletin 0000000168 11 May 2005







Ken Livingstone responds

The Mayor of London      Elected on 4 May 2000       Elected for a second term on 10 June 2004
12th May 2005

Dear Sir,

Your piece 'Criminal' (Mirror May 11th) does a serious injustice to the tremendous work being done by Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).

My own experience of the work they do does not tally with your report, with its accusations of low morale, avoiding duties and poor teamwork. On the contrary I have seen at first hand PCSOs working well with police officers in communities across our city.

Through the Safer Neighbourhoods programme, PCSOs working alongside police officers in dedicated teams, are building trust within communities and helping to reduce crime at higher rates than in the city as a whole.

I fully support the government's commitment to increasing PCSO numbers and provide Safer Neighbourhood Teams to every local community in London. These men and women deserve our admiration, not unfair attacks based on isolated experiences.

     Ken Livingstone

Site members have their say too:

Posted: 11 May 2005 10:02 am Post reads:

Kentishman
The Mirror is only reporting what most of us have known for nearly 3yrs.

Yes - The training is c**p , totally inadequate for the job and when i was the first recruit in the UK i had only 3mins on the radio to namecheck myself on a radio that wasn't switched on. I cannot blame the trainers because they are only doing their job to the best of there ability with very limited resources. There was also next to no written work involved either, apart from a few notes about how to write in lost property if we come across it.

If you are a PCSO in Central London doing security then the job is extrememly boring. It is impossible for any individual to walk a small area for 10 - 12hrs solid. You have to stop somewhere to rest the legs and maybe even get a coffee so you can stimulate the brain and body again. In fact the guvnors and trainers encourage PCSO's to go into cafes and McDonalds to have a coffee as it still provides a police presence in public.

On relief there is no real guidance or support for the PCSO's as you are just told to cover a beat and get on with it. Some police officers still dont respect you as an individual or as an extended member of the police family and therefore morale is probably very low amongst the PCSO's. Take into account that there are very limited opportunities within the PCSO role, and absolutely no opportunity of extra money for overtime etc.

It's also very deperssing when you hear all these insults from the Federation who do nothing but plunge the knife into all PCSO's. It's not very nice making the effort of going to work, paying bucket loads of money to get to work, then do a good hard honest days work when they can only insult the crap out of you for doing it. You can see why morale might be very low!

Overall i thought the report in the Mirror was very interesting and fair as it highlighted the problems we PCSO's face on a daily basis not only from members of the public, but also from our own so-called colleagues within the police service.

_________________ Kentishman.

Posted: 11 May 2005 10:33 am Post reads:

echohead

Agree with Kentishman and for that matter the Mirror article.

As PCSO's all trying to do our job to the best of our ability it was refreshing to see that the article focused upon the problems we experience at work each day and not that PCSO's are a worthless resource and a waste of money as the Federation would have officers believe at times.

Yes the training isn't comprehensive enough, some of us are not given the minimum in protection (body armour) nor the powers (only have three at the moment and none relate to ASB). There IS often confusion as to our remit, ie tactically withdraw balanced against wading in if an officer is in trouble and this needs to be addressed however these things inevitably take time.

As far as our relationship with regular officers is concerned there is no such thing as love at first sight and both sides of the policing devide need to get to know each other before team harmony is achieved !!

_________________ echohead.

Posted: 11 May 2005 10:44 am Post reads:

Tony Biker

If you look at what the reporter states, which to be honest appears to be true as far as "HIS" experiences go, you have to admit that serious questions have to be asked on: his training and his deployment, and the key question, his supervision support and management.

Looking back at posts on the site, we will all tend to agree that 4-weeks training is not enough when you don't know what tasks or jobs you are expected to do. My own Division in Cheshire won't just stick you out on the streets alone with no experience, you have an experienced PC to teach you for at least a further 5-weeks, and then you work along side them as a "team".

I agree that maybe the reporter should have gone to a different force to see how well a PCSO does operate in an area that uses a PCSO in a way it was intended, and has received proper training, support (ongoing) and has become an excepted and respected member of the Police Force. But that would not have been good media reading would it!

If the Mirror has shown serious problems in the MET on how they are using PCSO's and its training of them, then I suggest we may all benefit from the story. For a change it did not knock the PCSO as a "numpty", because one thing that does get personal is when our brain power is brought into question, and we all know that if your standard PC has the dedication that members of this site have, then we really would be in a safer place.

What the story has really pointed out is how difficult and diverse the job can be at times, and that we don't just walk about chatting to the blue rinse brigade and giving directions.

After 18 months in the job I am now feeling confident in what I do and how to do it. Thanks for that go to my PC colleagues, Sergeant and Inspector who have all taken the time to understand my role and limitations. Because did they understand what a PCSO did? of course the didn't, but they do now.

Here is a perfect example of high praise: A Sergeant stated in an open meeting of PCSO's and PC's "that one particular PCSO in the Division produces twice as much as any PC". Some praise indeed!

So I lay the blame firmly on Supervision of how that PCSO in the MET was deployed.

The Police have always been at the blunt end of media attention, remember the BBC's "The Secret Policeman"? And we have to except that we are going to receive our share of it, and it’s going to be mostly bad.

The Express (yes we all cringe!) is total anti-PCSO and never holds back at its personal insults. The Mirror has not, its simply pointed out a serious issue with training and some deployment, and in the Mirror's case based on fact not fiction as in the case of the Express.

So having read the Mirror several times today, I am going to except the stick it has handed out, not at your PCSO but at the training and in the MET's case it's supervision. It has been careful at its choice of words and the "Mirror Comment" on page 6 needs looking at:

  1. It is a good idea.
  2. It will only work if they are properly trained, and they aren’t.
  3. 4 weeks training is not good enough.
  4. THE GOVERMENT MUSTN'T LET THIS GOOD IDEA FAIL BECAUSE IT IS NOT TRAINING THESE OFFICERS PROPERLY.
Now, who is going to disagree with that? Not me.... _________________ Tony Biker.

Posted: 11 May 2005 11.23 am Post reads:

mattd

Somepoints were quite obviously just a load of old carp, as some else has said if you do foot patrol for a few hours you need to stop and have rest for abit. ofcourse that wouldnt have looked good in the story.

Im also dubious of the whole sex offender thing. So what if he was a sex offender? They are a fact of life, the only thing the PC`s should have done was to gather as much intell as possible, description,times etc and any people he meets to go on an intell report. He cant be arrested as theres no allegation he has committed any crime, also he therefore cant be stopped and searched. They only thing they could have done is to stop him and warn him they are aware of his history and that they know he is around.....but then some would say that is breaching his human rights (not me but hey) and they need to watch their own backs too.It was just abit of sensationalism.

I`m sure the report does raise some genuine concerns re training and morale that is specific to the Met in that area. Its certainly not endemic of the whole country. I was sat in the report writing room last night getting the paperwork ready for a S18 search and a PC came in and made me and the CSO who was just about to book off and go home a cuppa.Theres no ignoring people here and no evidence of low morale from what i can see.

_________________ mattd.

        

national-PCSOs.co.uk
undercover PCSO

On Wednesday 11 May 2005, the Daily Mirror broke with a headline news story, about their undercover news reporter Pete Samson, who joined the Met as a PCSO and went through the 4 week training period - emerging onto London's streets as a fully qualified PCSO with quite a lot to say.

11 May 2005
4 WEEKS' TRAINING LEFT ME TERRIFIED

DAILY MIRROR GOES UNDERCOVER
By Pete Samson

MY CLASS of 23 community support officers left training school terrified about walking the beat and our instructor admitted many were not up to the job.

Most found the four-week course woeful and left unsure about their powers and how to enforce them.
The course was taught in a makeshift office in Shaftesbury Avenue, Central London, because the Met's usual training base in Hendon was full.

With 200 London PCSOs training at the same time as me, there were no resources to provide practical training. We were not shown how to work a police radio and there was not even a TV to show us video tapes normally used as teaching aids.

Although we were tested during the course, it was impossible to fail the exams. The only part of training you could fail was officer safety training and emergency life support - but even then we were spoon fed through the examinations.
Just before letting us loose on the streets our instructor, who did his best with the facilities available, summed up his feelings. He told us: "You're getting rushed through. Thousands and thousands of PCSOs will soon be on the streets. That's why we haven't got the facilities we should have.

"Many of you simply do not know enough. This needs to be a pass or fail course to protect the standards of the Metropolitan Police Service.

"It's all going to have to change. You only cost a few thousand pounds a year less than a new bobby.
"When there are 5,000 PCSOs on London streets the Met are going to have to start getting value for money from you. To get that value for money they will have to change your role and give you more powers.

"You are told you can detain people then given nothing to detain them with." PCSOs do not carry handcuffs or any weapons. Their only defensive equipment is a protective vest. We spent just one day on officer safety training, learning how to protect ourselves from physical attacks.

Just 20 minutes was spent practising how to fend off a knife attack, and I left the training feeling very uncomfortable about policing London's streets. There was also confusion about what action we should take when faced with violent situations. We were told by some instructors to "tactically withdraw" from any danger and simply radio for help. We were told we did not have the training or equipment to deal with violent situations, and that our safety was more important than the public's.

But another instructor told us if we did not step in when a fellow officer was under attack we "would not be very popular back in the station canteen". Another essential aspect of the course, emergency life support, was covered in two days. The instructor then helped us through the practical exam, prompting us if we forgot crucial life-saving techniques. Two and a half days, more than on any other subject, was diversity training. A specialist was brought in to talk about equality and our feelings. Another trainer called it our "teddy bears and bean bags time".

Our diversity trainer's teaching techniques and appearance reminded me of The Office's David Brent. He encouraged us to "dive into the water" and "go deep-sea diving" and discuss our deepest emotions. When he asked the class our feelings about the course, every single member said they were unsatisfied. He replied: "How can I talk to you about prejudice towards minority groups when you are suffering as a minority group within the Met?

"You've no facilities, no desk, no teaching aids and it's not good enough. In your situation I'd have walked out. You're not being supported and neither are the trainers. The Met has tried hard to deal with racism but it's not dealing with other types of inequality."

More site members have their say:

Posted: 11 May 2005 11:45 am Post reads:

pieman71

This article has brought to light in one day what many of us pcso and union reps have tried to highlight for nearly three years.

Maybe somebody will start to listen to these concerns and start acting on them. All PCSO`s should have regular training and assesments to ensure that we are upto the job, most will just go out and try to manage with this inadiqute training and supervision its only a matter of time before someone gets killed or seriously injured because our training is not upto standard.

All pcso should push there SMT to arrange for regular update training as the training now (belive it or not) is much better than it was three years ago.

So what can we do about this.
We have put up with the issues raised in the Mirror for to long we all need to get involved with the unions and become active Reps and by doing so have the confidence to speak out when we see things going wrong.

If enough PCSO become reps then we will be able to dictate our own negotiations for better pay and conditions. At the moment the people doing this now are SRO`s cad staff and other police staff who athough thay do a good job they do not know what being a PCSO is really like.

I hope someone takes up the mirror artical and pushes Sir Ian Blair in to a response and some action to end this sham.

If we are not confident about doing our jobs how can the public be expected to be confident in the jobs we do and this is probebly our most inportant role (publice reasurance).

To echo the mirror say`s, lets not waste a great concept.
I hope and pray We can make this work for all our sakes as it will proberbly be a Pcso standing next to that Al-Qaeda terrorist while they plan their attack on Britain and if we do not know what do it could be deadly for many hundreds of people.


_________________ pieman71.

More site members have their say:

Posted: 11 May 2005 3:00pm Post reads:

alihowe

Again it's hyped up Media Story that is giving our role a bad name Okay so the Met training had it's snags, but I must say our training was excellent and we hit the streets with great confidence and knowledge.

I've just said on another Thread that you can sit in a classrom for 12mths but you don't really start to learn the role until you're OUT THERE, meeting the people and dealing with REAL LIFE SITUATIONS.

_________________ alihowe.

Posted: 11 May 2005 5:01pm Post reads:

Gforceuk

The really annoying thing with articles like this is that its printed in a NATIONAL newspaper.

If it was printed in a london local paper then i wouldnt be concerned with it. But this portrays all pcso's in a bad light and badly trained. This is an extremely bad generalisation in a way.

Notts force has great training and the pcso's ( the majority) as used in a great way with full back up from pc's and higher up .

This sort of gutter trash in the gutter press does nothing for anyone.
_________________ Gforceuk.

Posted: 11 May 2005 5:33pm Post reads:

kipper

I feel that this has done damage to us out there nationwide, it has knocked our credibility. I've worked hard for 15 months building community bridges and gaining respect. This report has nothing in it to support that.

The point is, as mentioned above somewhere, that this is a Met problem but we have all been tarred with the same brush. I work in an district identified by our countyhall and police as one of two major problem areas targeted for special measures. This report will with no doubt make a difficult job harder for me.

Yes the training was crud, but as a result of feedback the intial 3 weeks I got has now been extended to 5 for new PCSOs. If the end result is that all the issues we have all raised gets dealt with in the end then fine it will have been worth it. But a government bowing to media pressure is a rare thing indeed.

_________________ kipper.

        

national-PCSOs.co.uk
undercover PCSO

On Wednesday 11 May 2005, the Daily Mirror broke with a headline news story, about their undercover news reporter Pete Samson, who joined the Met as a PCSO and went through the 4 week training period - emerging onto London's streets as a fully qualified PCSO with quite a lot to say.

12 May 2005
CSO SAMSON ..YOU'RE FIRED

THE undercover reporter who exposed shocking flaws in the Police Community Support Officer scheme was yesterday sacked by the Met.

The Daily Mirror's Pete Samson, who worked in Westminster, found them to be ill-equipped and under trained.

He received a letter which said: "In view of the current circumstances and the true identity of your current employer, I regard your employment as terminated with immediate effect."

12 May 2005
'A FAILURE ROLLED OUT ACROSS COUNTRY'
By Pete Samson

THE Mirror has been flooded with calls supporting our undercover Police Community Support Officer investigation. Here are just a few comments:

If this is the only way to get the powers that be to sit up and listen to how poorly we are trained and equipped, then I am all for it.
PCSO, Kent

My son is a police officer based in Birmingham with regular drive-by shootings. My son had full police training, CSOs don't.
Hazel Mason

I've been a London PCSO for 18 months. I've been put in countless dangerous situations I wasn't equipped for.
PCSO, London

Sheffield held the pilot schemes, which failed miserably, but the failure was rolled out nationally.
Martin Brighton, Sheffield

Youths are aware of our lack of powers. Most give you abuse then run off when you shout for a police officer.
PCSO, Oldham, Gtr Manchester.

We get excellent results working alongside police officers to tackle anti-social behaviour.
PCSO, Avon and Somerset.

More site members have their say:

Posted: 11 May 2005 5:53 pm Post reads:

Kentishman

I have stated on here earlier that every other force/service in the UK seems to have learnt from the Met's mistakes and therefore i do have sympathy for all you guys and girls working for the different forces.

It probably doesn't paint PCSO's in a good light but it has highlighted some very serious issues within the Met that now must surely be addressed.

I like all yourselfs am sick and tired of being tarred with the same brush with some of my fellow Met PCSO's who badly let us all down. The Met has clearly learnt bugger all from their mistakes and this will only give the likes of Jan Berry more ammunition to fire at us all.

It is however encouraging to read the Mirror's comments that we are a good idea and that the Goverment must'nt let this PCSO scheme fail.

What is clear is that the national press and the Federation target the Met simply because it is the biggest force in the UK and it covers a very large area where we have some extremely high profile and sensitive buildings such as royal palaces and the Houses Of Parliament.

They will also target the Met because they have the highest number of PCSO's in the UK working for them and therefore any scancal the press or the Fed can dig up will likely be within the MPS.
_________________ Kentishman.

Posted: 11 May 2005 6:07 pm Post reads:

jimbo

I agree with most of it - I wasn't given any radio training at all!

It is a shame that the reporter didn't stay longer. Personally I found that the first three months or so were about finding out what we couldn't do, and the year and a bit since has been finding out what we can.

The only thing I really object to is the headline "CRIMINAL" plastered over images of PCSO's.
Gives completely the wrong impression. _________________ jimbo.

Posted: 11 May 2005 6:33 pm Post reads:

stereo

when i first read it, i could not believe it, another anti PCSO article !!!

but on cool reflection it brings up some valid points about training and infact supports PCSOs as a good idea !! and lets be honest ..... with 6 days in the job we all remember thinking what now ???

i do agree with others that sensationalising the article with CRIMINAL and portraying us as untrained, possibly unproffesional and incompotent does put us in a bad light with the public across the uk...

they have not focussed on the positive side of the role !! i was told by my C Insp to have 10 cups of tea in 10 different locations during my shift... stop and have a chat at every opportunity !!! this is what community support is all about !! (does this conflict with Traffic pcso and Sec pcso ???)

I attend the schools, after school clubs, victims of crime and youth groups (even going away for the weekend with a Disadvantaged Youth Group, something that the Pc's in my area would not have done or have been invited to ) but i dont see that in any paper...

we all know as PCSOs that good news doesnt sell newspapers !!!
_________________ stereo.

Posted: 11 May 2005 6:42 pm Post reads:

walsh

I have just read the article in the mirror, and I must say, the pc's where I work, treat me as one of the team, there is none of this, we sit on one side of the office, they sit on the other, maybe they should of gone to a different location within the met.

However it appears he wasn't treated right, and maybe he was right to expose how the pcso's are treated on that borough.

I for one couldn't work in an enviroment like that.
As for my training at Hendon, it was flawless, ok we didn't get much radio training, but neither do the pc's, its not exactly brain surgery.
_________________ walsh.

        

national-PCSOs.co.uk
undercover PCSO

On Wednesday 11 May 2005, the Daily Mirror broke with a headline news story, about their undercover news reporter Pete Samson, who joined the Met as a PCSO and went through the 4 week training period - emerging onto London's streets as a fully qualified PCSO with quite a lot to say.

13 May 2005
COPS ASK MIRROR TO HELP SHAKE-UP
Exclusive By Pete Samson

THE undercover Daily Mirror reporter who exposed flaws in the Police Community Support Officer scheme has been asked to help improve it.

Pete Samson has been invited to Tuesday's annual conference of the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, to answer questions.

Home Office officials and police teams from abroad will also attend the conference, screened live on the web, in Blackpool.

Leader Bob Elder yesterday praised our investigation, saying: "The Mirror has uncovered exactly what we have feared, that CSOs are not properly trained, briefed or tasked. It's opened a can of worms."

Samson will sit on a panel with Humberside chief constable Tim Hollis and crime expert and author Norman Dennis.

Meanwhile, a decision to allow British Transport Police CSOs to use handcuffs was attacked yesterday. BTP Police Federation chairman Alex Robertson warned: "If it's handcuffs today, it's batons tomorrow and CS spray next."

More site members have their say:

Posted: 11 May 2005 8:31 pm Post reads:

tundom

Right - deep breath.

Shaftesbury Training.
As most of you are aware I recently completed my PCSO training in the Met. This guy was actually on my course and I sat next to him for the first week. (He seemed like a normal guy never suspected a thing btw!) At the end of my 4 weeks at Shaftesbury I felt exactly the way he has expressed, I felt as if we had sweet FA training and would not last a week on the street (seems he didnt j/k).

However, when I arrived on Borough I was shocked by the welcome I received. I've now had full support for a week and a half and additional training, I even get further OST tomorrow. I have been most pleased with this and the PCs at my borough have been 90% welcoming.

Trainer's comments
These have been somewhat modified to suit the article as you can imagine, but our staff was this honest and rightly so. The reporter failed to mention that our staff had been appointed to re-write this course over the next few months and would include Pass/fail assessments. The trainer highlighted the fact that in our powers assessment some people got 50% ( in other words only knew 50% of their powers/responsibilities!!) and he felt uncomfortable having to let them through.

ELS
This is hugely exaggerated and I feel our ELS was good training and the assessment accurately portrayed basic competence.

Radio Training
This is entirely accurate! We had to get a PC off the street (of our own accord) to show us a radio that wasn't a black & white sketch!! The first time I even spoke into a radio (let alone a toy one!) was on the street on my first day of patrol to do a vehicle check (definitely nerve jangling!)

I can't think of any more but if anyone has any questions please PM me or reply here, I'll try and keep up to date!!

_________________ tundom.

Posted: 11 May 2005 9:02 pm Post reads:

Jossman

While I personally found the article quite interesting it also supported a lot of the findings from my current research.

However if the Mirror really wants to get to grips with a scandal in policing I would suggest that they infiltrate the PSNI, not for any great expose on the religeous attitudes more on the Political Correctness gone crazy avenue.

For example the first registered dwarf is now in or just about to complete basisc training. (I have my sources!) And a young female Rookie PC who was as described by her sargeant as "round as she was tall" who when called to an affray ran crying to her car and locked her self in it as both sides in the punch up began to sing who ate all the pies!

Its that sort of PC blindness and crass stupidity from senior management and politicians that needs sorting out publically. Not the fact that in one central London beat area we can sensationally reveal that a) Some of the police don't like their new friends yet, and b) PCSOs eat at MacDonalds

Hold the Front Page we have a scoop!

Like it or not these moorons (The Bobbies in question) need to get a grip of the fact that in 3 years time there wil have been a 600% rise in PCSO numbers (If governments plans go ahead), so there is the distinct possibility that the boot may be transferred to the other foot.
_________________ Jossman.

Posted: 11 May 2005 9:26 pm Post reads:

Headset 57

Glad i went to BTP.

I"ve always said to other BTP / PCSO"s that i would not like to do PCSOing on the streets around town or on some estate, however that"s just me.

We have been totally accepted at Waterloo but that is in part that most of the core duities officers are now over at Ebury Bridge nick on Victoria.

Also core officers will respond to PCSO"s in the same manner as other officers as they know that we are taking some of the more mundane jobs from them and allowing them to get more mobile.

Not sure what"s happening on the other London areas as they are slightly more intergrated with the PC"s but that"s down to space at the nicks.

All the MEt PCSO"s i"ve spoken to so far have been OK .

_________________ Headset 57.

Posted: 12 May 2005 9:09 am Post reads:

stu

Thats the problem that for one he may of been with the MET PCSO's but he doesnt know what its like in other forces!

Every force will be tarnished with the same brush! The article doesnt focus on the good things MET PCSO's cover on a dailly basis!

As for the word CRIMINAL , well that was a bad headline to underline PCSO's with but it has sold them more newspapers!

We all know there is alot to be done concerning the PCSO role, just a shame they didnt print their article before MAY 5th!!!

But they wouldnt of done that being Labour supporters would they! (before anyone says it i am a labour supporter myself.)

so at the end of the day those who dont like the article wether it be from a MET PCSO's point of view or any other PCSO's point of view, well dont buy their news paper anymore!...
_________________ stu.

        

national-PCSOs.co.uk
the BILL syndrome

14 May 2005
COPS TOO LAZY AND SCARED TO WALK THE BEAT
'They all think they should be like The Bill'
By Bob Roberts, Deputy Political Editor

POLICE officers are too lazy or scared to walk the beat, one of the country's top former officers has said in a stinging attack.

Ex-Metropolitan Police Commander Dave Gilbertson lashed out, saying: "Just as all nurses are angels, all policemen are brave bobbies fighting crime on the front line. Balderdash!"

He said the Police Community Support Officer scheme was "policing on the cheap" - but the public was being short-changed by full-time officers

The retired 56-year-old, who was awarded the Queen's Police Medal after 30 years' service, blasted bobbies who think they are in an episode of The Bill - hanging around in their patrol cars or doing macho plain clothes work.

He said: "The real problem is the so-called bobby on the beat is no longer properly led or supervised.

"Sergeants are little more than Pcs with stripes. Inspectors hide in their offices and don't 'inspect' anything.
"The result is that officers on the shop floor largely do what they enjoy most and that rarely includes walking a beat.
"They prefer vehicle patrols or plain clothes work. Sometimes the option is to do as little as possible. Most believe The Bill represents 21st century policing so life imitates art."

He added: "Almost all officers now patrol in pairs for 'safety' reasons. That has effectively halved the available ground-cover across England and Wales.
"Ministers know it, the Home Office knows it, research has confirmed it but no one is prepared to take on the powerful lobby of the Police Federation,"

But a senior Home Office source said: "We are moving towards setting tougher targets and demanding better results from police constables.
"They have to become not only more professional but also more accountable."

11 May 2005
CRIMINAL WASTE
Voice of the Daily Mirror
voice@mirror.co.uk

When people are asked what they think would best curb crime, the answer is more police on the streets.

So the government came up with the idea of Police Community Support Officers who can do much of the work of ordinary bobbies.

It is a good idea. But it will only work if they are properly trained. And as the Mirror's undercover operation shows, they aren't.

Our reporter discovered that their four week training is not good enough.

Which puts them at risk and doesn't give the public the protection they need.

The government mustn't let this good idea fail because it is not training these new officers properly.

Volume 38 | Issue 953 | May 13 2005
PCSOs hit back at ‘untrained’ slur

TWO police community support officers (PCSOs) have spoken of their successful and rewarding positions assisting the frontline Met force.

Francis Okonkwo and Daniel Ellis feel their role is a vital support to fully trained police officers, providing important leads and information.

During more than two years of service, PCSO Okonkwo, based in Charing Cross, said: “I became a PCSO because I wanted to put something back into the community. I’ve been involved in assisting with all types of incidents from road traffic accidents to talking to a man who was intent on committing suicide. The man sent me a letter afterwards to thank me for saving his life.”

The two wanted to set the record straight after a national newspaper went undercover and claimed PCSOs are undertrained and undervalued by the community and fellow police officers.

“I was quite upset by the claims that were being made,” said PCSO Okonkwo, who has a Master’s degree in law: “We get adequate training for what we are asked to do and that is to provide a visible and approachable presence in our patrol areas.

Opportunity

“At Charing Cross, as well as standard training there is the opportunity for PCSOs to attend two weeks of traffic powers training – four members of the team have just completed it and another two are about to start.”

PCSO Ellis, who has just completed his first year, said: “I am very comfortable with the training I have received to do my job. I had training before undertaking duties and once I actually got to the station I was shown what to do by more experienced community support officers and PCs.”

The negative press is being reviewed to see if there are any lessons to be learnt for the Met. Commissioner Sir Ian Blair said: “Clearly there are some PCSOs who would like to be able to do more than their training and powers allow, but PCSOs have a particular role to play.”

Sgt Robert Chandler, from Charing Cross, said: “There is an excellent working relationship on team and PCSOs are an invaluable and integral part of the team in all areas including security and crime reduction.

select to enter Met Fed website

Sad reflection in The Mirror
: from pages 4 and 5 in the August 2005 issue of Metline

From the news pages of the “The Mirror” comes a sad relection on the world of the London Police Community Support Officers.

When that paper sent a reporter undercover to join the ranks of the capital’s PCSOs he returned with a dismal tale of poor training, confused briefings, frightened personnel and neglect of duty.
Just a week later, the same newspaper came up with further revelations, many of a similar nature, from a PCSO who had “quit in disgust.”

The Met Federation, unlike other federations, has always seen a place for PCSOs – provided they are properly trained and appropriately used. We have said from the outset that they can be a valuable asset in the task of securing London against terrorism. But we have always warned of the consequences of employing them on duties for which they are not adequately prepared or equipped.
So far, our warnings have gone largely unheeded. The result: two damning national newspaper reports about the chaotic situation on the streets which has finally forced the Met to sit up and take notice. Even now, its response to the situation is worrying.

Both stories described instances of malpractice by PCSOs and also by police officers. One actually alleges criminal wrongdoing by the two groups. DAC Brian Paddick told The Mirror that there would be a full investigation by “our anti-corruption people.” There is, of course, no cause for surprise or complaint there. But where was any mention of looking again at the training of PCSOs, upon which depends their adequacy on the streets? Or, failing that, of confining their duties to those for which they have competency?

It is as if the Met hopes that these vital issues will disappear from the public view behind a smokescreen of disciplinary proceedings. The Met seems so dazzled by the concept of PCSOs that it cannot see clearly the dangers with which it is flirting as a result of its policies towards them.

Whenever the topic of PCSOs arises, the Met starts spinning – and is now spinning dangerously out of control. The amount of space devoted to stories about PCSOs in “The Job” newspaper is out of all proportion to their numbers within the organisation. There is a very real risk that other personnel in the MPS, including members of police staff, are going to feel undeservedly ignored and devalued. This will help neither morale nor Commissioner Sir Ian Blair’s vision of working “together” for a safer London. And it is certainly no substitute for the actions we have recommended.

The London Evening Standard has recently been carrying stories about the growing number of residents’ groups in the capital which are hiring private security guards. One focused on Kensington and Chelsea – a borough with a famously high concentration of PCSOs – in which it quoted a resident as saying “It makes me very angry that there isn’t a police presence.” So much for re-assurance policing by PCSOs. In another story, the Standard quotes Commissioner Sir Ian Blair as warning: “We do not want security to become quasi-police.” Nor, we suggest, do Londoners want regular street policing done by quasi-police who are neither trained, equipped nor suited for the role.

Our message remains clear: we have no doubt that the majority of men and women who today wear a PCSO’s uniform would make excellent police officers. But they are not police officers and the Met does not invest in them as it does police officers. The Met has to recognise this and deploy them in ways commensurate with their training.

What they said in the stories
: from pages 4 and 5 in the August 2005 issue of Metline

In the first of two damning reports on PCSOs, Mirror readers learned that the officers were “badly trained, ill equipped and terrified of walking the beat.” The story told the experiences of undercover reporter Peter Samson, who succeeded in joining the Met’s PCSOs. The Mirror claimed that its reporter, along with other recruits was not shown how to work a radio and received insufficient personal safety training. They were left confused about what to do if faced with violence, the story added.

The Mirror quoted a PCSO telling its reporter:
“It’s (the PCSO role) supposed to make the public feel safer but it’s a fraud. We’ve no powers and you’re advised to move away from dangerous situations because you’re not properly trained. Meanwhile, you’re stuck on the streets with no protection. The public don’t take you seriously and call you Mickey Mouse and PCs don’t even say good morning to you.” jump to SITEMAP

The newspaper included excerpts from a ‘patrol diary’ which the reporter kept while at work. One entry describes the discovery of a suspected bomb. It reads: “Frantic police try to get all pedestrians and cars out of the area but are overwhelmed and unable to clear the streets. Meanwhile several PCSOs enjoy an extended refreshment break, playing on fruit machines and listening to the ‘excitement’ on their radios.”

Commissioner Sir Ian Blair responded to the story by saying: “Quite frankly, this experience of this journalist during his brief time with the Met is inconsistent with most people’s experience.” Most Londoners, he added, are supportive of PCSOs as are police officers who work alongside them on a daily basis.

The second Mirror story concerned a PCSO based in south east London who had quit his job. He claimed that local police had “no real idea how to deploy us and consider us to be more of a hindrance than a help.” He continued, “Most days we were more or less told to clear off, supposedly on patrol, to come back at the end of the shift and not to do anything very much while out on the street in case we created problems. The result was that most days PCSOs spend most of the day lounging about the police station.”

DAC Brian Paddick told the Mirror that the PCSO should be “applauded” for his revelations, adding “We are taking his claims very seriously.”
above from pages 4 and 5 in the August 2005 issue of Metline