Headteachers’ ‘dismay’ at Norfolk police decision to scrap 150 PCSOs

A PCSO keeping his eye out for illegal parkers in Dussindale. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

A PCSO keeping his eye out for illegal parkers in Dussindale. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: � ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

Headteachers say under-threat community police officers have made a 'significant contribution' to keeping classrooms safe and pupils on the right path.

Hobart High School headteacher Jim Adams.
PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Hobart High School headteacher Jim Adams. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Norfolk Constabulary announced last week plans to scrap all 150 of its Police Community Support Officers (PCSO), close seven stations and shut front desks to the public.

It will see the county's secondary schools lose out on visits from PCSOs, who, under the force's Safer Schools Partnership, are assigned to a school to up safety, build relationships and reduce the risk of young people being drawn into crime.

David Hutton, headteacher at Marshland High School, in West Walton, said it would be met with 'dismay' from schools.

'It is undeniable that the role of the PCSO have made a significant contribution to making our schools safer, helping school staff deal with the increasingly complex challenges that young people face today,' he said.

'As well as schools, local communities have benefited from their work as they have got out into the community and knocked on doors, visited potential flash points and provided the oil that helps all local communities to exist within the law.'

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He said it was disappointing that schools were only invited into consultation after the announcement, and that the partnership had been working well after a 'shaky start'.

'Schools understand very well the present financial climate but decisions made without a genuine consultation often lead to short-sightedness,' he said.

'Schools will not suffer immediately, but in time, like so many decisions made regarding cuts, the impact will be felt and our communities will suffer.'

His concerns were echoed by Jim Adams, headteacher at Hobart High School, in Loddon, which welcomed a PCSO visit once a week.

'It is a shame,' he said. 'I've got tremendous sympathy for it, the public sector is having to make cuts everywhere, but it is a real shame.

'We had a really good relationship with our PCSO - she worked with youngsters who may be putting themselves in danger in some way.

'She provided a link with the community and made it easier to pre-empt issues.'

What do you think about Norfolk police's plans? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email edpletters@archant.co.uk