Consultation to be held on future funding of PCSO post

Marram Green, Kessingland.

Marram Green, Kessingland. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Residents are set to vote on whether their village should keep its own dedicated police community support officer (PCSO).

Kessingland Parish Council has agreed arrangements for an informal referendum on the future funding of a full time PCSO post for the village.

It comes after Suffolk Police decided not to match-fund PCSOs, with the community consulted on whether they wished to fund the cost between July and September last year. The future of the village's PCSO role was put to a public vote and residents voted in favour of paying more council tax to retain a dedicated officer for 2017/18.

With the council entering into a Service Level Agreement with Suffolk Constabulary, a parish council spokesman claimed that since then, the level of anti-social behaviour across the village had increased and 'the local community are questioning whether the continued funding of the PCSO post represents value for money or not.'

The spokesman added: 'In essence the working hours of the current PCSO post does not meet the needs of the local community in that the majority of anti-social behaviour occurs in the evening and at weekends and despite fully funding a PCSO post, these hours are not covered. The parish council has made numerous representations since September 2016, through correspondence and at meetings, calling for the policy restricting the hours of the PCSOs to be extended to include evenings and most weekends.'

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An informal village referendum will be held from October 2 to October 16, with the results announced at a public meeting on October 17 at Marram Green in Kessingland. An extraordinary meeting of the parish council will be held on October 25 where a formal decision will be made.

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton said: 'A review of the Safer Neighbourhood Team Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) shift patterns has now been carried out. Following this, a number of options will be considered by Suffolk Constabulary and the Police and Crime Commissioner as part of the wider force continuous improvement and budgeting programme that is currently under way. It is important to note that there are significant cost implications with the option of PCSOs reverting to full shifts and therefore any decision around shift patterns will have to consider not only meeting demands on police and addressing community concerns, but also the pressure of shrinking budgets.'

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