Should councils pay for extra police officers to combat PCSO cuts?
- Credit: Ian Burt
A Norfolk district councillor has proposed a radical step to combat the fears of its constituents over the loss of PCSOs in their area.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats at North Norfolk District Council suggested at the full council meeting in December that NNDC use their own financial reserves to fund five new beat officers in the district for the next five years.
Councillor Sarah Butikofer said: 'This is not a proposal we have made lightly, but I believe we have a moral duty to do everything in our power to keep the people we represent safe and secure'.
The £1 million plan will be considered in the February full council meeting, where the next annual budget will be discussed.
The proposed policemen would be funded by NNDC at £200,000 a year, but employed by Norfolk Constabulary.
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Initial plans are for one policeman to be stationed in: Holt, Fakenham, the Cromer and Sheringham area, North Walsham and Stalham.
The proposal arose out of the plans to slash 17 PCSOs in north Norfolk, who would be replaced by only one chief inspector and two neighbourhood police sergeants.
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Councillor Butikofer, who represents the Runtons ward, said: 'Since hearing the changes the chief constable is being forced to make to frontline services, we have been engaging with parish councils, community groups and residents. All have expressed concern, alarm and dismay at the loss of dedicated visible police officers in their communities.
'Obviously, this money belongs to the people of north Norfolk so we have obtained agreement from the chief constable that barring a major incident they would not be called away to work in other parts of the county.'
Councillor Butikofer added: 'I haven't heard of any other councils doing it, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't.'
Simon Bailey, Norfolk's chief constable, said: 'Changes in policing demand combined with substantial funding challenges have led us to make some significant decisions around how we will police the county in the future.
'However, community policing remains at the heart of our new policing model and the role of dedicated beat managers will continue to be around pro actively resolving and preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.
'Any additional support local authorities can provide which increases officer numbers will only assist us in providing north Norfolk with an even more focused frontline policing response.'