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PCSO cuts will “undermine” policing, say campaigners

PUBLISHED: 17:02 02 December 2017 | UPDATED: 17:45 02 December 2017

A day of action protesting against the decision to scrap 150 PCSO roles in Norfolk. Picture: UNISON

A day of action protesting against the decision to scrap 150 PCSO roles in Norfolk. Picture: UNISON

Archant

Campaigners predicting policing will be undermined by the loss of 150 PCSOs from Norfolk Police have been targeting voters in Norwich North.

Union members were joined by shadow policing minister Louise Haigh and Norwich South MP Clive Lewis as a group of around 100 protested the job cuts and closures of police counters around the county.

Proposals announced by Norfolk Police in October include axing all 150 PCSOs and replacing them with 81 police officers as part of a move that would save £2m.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey said the force is facing “severe and ongoing budget reductions” and that he made the decision with “regret”.

But Chris Jenkinson, regional secretary of UNISON, said PCSOs have been a vital “link with the community” since 2002.

Becky Tye, UNISON Regional Convenor and Rad Kerrigan, Deputy Convenor. Picture: UNISON Becky Tye, UNISON Regional Convenor and Rad Kerrigan, Deputy Convenor. Picture: UNISON

“This all comes down to the principle of neighbourhood policing,” he said.

“They were introduced in 2002 and before then neighbourhood policing had collapsed. The public used to complain they never saw the police walking the streets and there was no interaction with them.

“They are the people who develop relationships with the community and there is lots of evidence to suggest they represent value for money and deter crime with the intelligence they gather, particularly in terms of things like terrorism, which is founded on effective intelligence.”

Mr Jenkinson added the proposal to cut PCSOs and close front counters made the Police and Crime Plan, published last year, unachievable.

“The idea the force is going to be more resilient is little more than a pipe dream,” he said. “Norfolk Constabulary have not got the resources so they are going to ration their services.

“Undoubtedly there are financial pressures, so a resolution for this has to be to set with government to provide the appropriate level of resource to maintain effective policing in the county.

“The Police and Crime Plan says the commissioner wanted high visible policing and accessible policing. We say that plan is not worth the paper it is written on. We are going in entirely the opposite direction and the PCC cannot deliver his plan.

“Crime will continue to rise and public confidence in policing will be undermined.”

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