What is a Police Community Support Officer?
Police Community Support Officers are members of support staff employed, directed and managed by their Police Force. They will work to complement and support regular police officers, providing a visible and accessible uniformed presence to improve the quality of life in the community and offer greater public reassurance.
PCSOs are not replacement police officers but are there to address some of the tasks that do not require the experience or powers held by police officers, which often take officers away from more appropriate duties.
Are they like special constables, traffic wardens or local authority neighbourhood wardens?
Just as PCSOs are not the same as police officers, they are not the same as special constables, traffic wardens or local authority wardens. They are a unique role designed purely to tackle local anti-social behaviour and issues affecting the quality of life. Police Forces continue to support special constables who have the same powers as police officers. While PCSOs will be providing a visible and regular patrol, unlike neighbourhood wardens, they are employed by the police and have some powers provided by an Act of Parliament to allow them to directly tackle some anti-social behaviour issues.
Why are Police Forces employing Police Community Support Officers?
Public demand for visible patrols has never been greater. There are new opportunities arising from the Government's reform of policing to provide additional capacity to better meet the demand and deliver a service your communities expect and deserve.
What do they do?
Their primary purpose is to improve the community and offer greater public reassurance. In support of regular police officers they will work within a targeted patrol area to provide a visible and accessible uniformed presence; work with partners and community organisations to address anti-social behaviour, the fear of crime, environmental issues and other factors which affect the quality of people's lives. For example; reporting vandalism or damaged street furniture, reporting suspicious activity; providing crime prevention advice, deterring juvenile nuisance and visiting victims of crime.
Where will they work?
Within all Divisions. They will work in a range of locations that may include areas experiencing a particular problem, particular estates or streets, or rural parishes. this will be determined primarily by the divisional commander. PCSOs will be part of the team that is managed by the community policing sergeants. They will have radios and have access to all appropriate Police information systems.
What powers will they have?
All PCSOs will have the following powers:
How can they be effective without full police powers?
PCSOs are not police officers. A major part of the work of PCSO's involves tasks that when undertaken by police officers do not require them to resort to using their full police powers. All PCSO's will be given full training to enable them to take appropriate action in the event of difficult circumstances. They will be supervised by police officers and will have radio access to enable them to call for assistance should it be required.
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Why can't you just employ more constables?
Police Forces are committed to employing as many police officers as they can. However they need to provide a more visible and accessible uniformed patrol presence and need to tackle the quality of life issues. These tasks do not require the powers or experience of police officers but often take police officers away from more appropriate duties.
Do police officers now not have to conduct foot patrol, remove abandoned vehicles or report graffiti?
Improving and maintaining the quality of life of our communities and to provide public reassurance remains the duty of all staff. PCSOs will not have sole responsibility for these tasks but are there to support police officers in these duties in specific geographic areas.
What equipment will they have?
Because of they way they will be deployed and managed, they will have all the necessary equipment and training to effectively carry out their role. They will all have personal radios that provide immediate access to police communications and support.
How are they accountable?
PCSOs are full members of Police staff and have been recruited to ensure they meet the high levels of integrity expected of all staff. As members of the Police you can be assured that they are subject to the same level of standards and scrutiny as other staff. They are managed by a sergeant, work with a community support team manager and are ultimately accountable to the divisional commander.
How can we tell who is a PCSO and who is a police officer?
PCSOs wear a uniform that makes them recognisable as being employees of a Police Force but that also makes them look distinct from police officers. All PCSOs carry personal identification. If you are in doubt about a person's identity ask them to show you this.
How are PCSOs recruited?
Advertisements are placed internally and in local newspapers. PCSOs are sought from within all sections of our diverse communities to boost our efforts to establish a workforce that is representative of the communities we serve.
What training are they being provided with?
PCSOs are being trained in the structure and principles of the force; customer care and community and race relations issues; relevant law and how to exercise their powers; patrol issues; use of Police technology, systems and partnership arrangements. They will be provided with on-going support, training and development.
Why do they only need a short course when it takes two years to train as a police constable?
PCSOs require less training because their role is different and more specific to that of a police constable. PCSOs will be fully trained to understand their role and how and when their powers should be exercised. The training package is comprehensive and on-going and is far greater than the training currently received by local authority warden schemes.
But I want to talk to a police officer
PCSOs will do their best to listen to you and resolve the issues you have or problems you may be experiencing. But it is understood that there are sometimes when you may want to speak to a police officer. You can always do this by contacting your local police station. However, because PCSOs work with the community policing team managers you can rely on them to pass any message or query to them if you wish.
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