Cuts to match-funded Waveney PCSOs delayed by a year

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- Credit: Archant © 2008

Feared cuts to police community support officer (PCSO) posts in Waveney have been delayed by a year.

Marram Green, Kessingland.Liam Martin.

Marram Green, Kessingland.Liam Martin. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Suffolk Constabulary had put all of the county's 166 PCSOs 'at risk' as part of a major restructure in order to save £20.5million from its budget by 2020, saying it would not 'match-fund' posts as it had in the past.

The force has until now paid part of a PCSO's salary, with the other part paid for by a community group or organisation.

Officers said that as well as needing to save money, they were reorganising the force to deal with changing patterns of crime that today see a greater focus on cyber crime than the more traditional problems.

But parish and town councils said the change, which would have come into effect in April this year, did not give them enough time to make alternative arrangements and see if they could find funding from elsewhere to keep the PCSOs - especially those that had already set their council tax levels for the year ahead.

However in a letter seen by The Journal, police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore and chief constable Gareth Wilson said: 'Many partners have expressed concern, particularly due to the very tight timescales.

'We are therefore going to postpone this decision until April 2017, to give you time for proper consideration of your requirements in the future.'

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However, the force is sticking to its position of not paying for match-funded PCSOs after April 2017.

Southwold mayor Melanie Tucker, said: 'We're pleased to see a pragmatic approach has been taken.

'PCSOs have an important community presence and we want to be in a position to match-fund a PCSO.'

Kessingland Parish Council chairman Liam Martin added: 'I think they realised they picked the wrong time and they didn't give anyone enough time to do anything about it.

'It's a good thing they've changed their minds but there should've been more consultation.'

He added that the parish council would need time to consult with the community before deciding whether it has a mandate to fund extra PCSO roles.

However Mr Martin - himself a police officer 30 years - said the decision not to match-fund PCSOs after 2017 is, in his view, wrong.

He said: 'When you consider the population of Kessingland and how many elderly people there are, it is something that reassures them if they can see someone walking around.

'These are people with old, traditional values. If they ring up for a policeman, they want to see a policeman - they don't want to be talking to someone in Martlesham or wait for a car from Halesworth.

'I think it would be wrong to take away everything and leave nothing.'

What do you think of the police's decision not to match-fund PCSO posts? Write, giving your full contact details, to: Journal Postbox, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB or email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk