Shortage of police officers in Suffolk as only 95 out of 107 PCSO roles filled
- Credit: Archant
A shortage of the right 'calibre' of people applying to be police officers in Suffolk has led to many advertised vacancies being left unfilled, it can be revealed.
This has led to an average of 30 fewer officers helping keep Suffolk safe over the past year.
It comes a year after Suffolk reduced the number of its staff by nearly 100, to create a more 'streamlined workforce'.
The county's police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said he was worried about the gap and discussed it at a February meeting.
Speaking this week, he said: 'The budget is there to be used and it's slightly frustrating that last year we were short of 30 officers – including 12 PCSOs – because those posts are there to be filled.
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'We need people to apply. My understanding is the starting salary for a police constable is £23,000 per year, which if you've recently left education isn't bad.
'The difficulty I think comes for older people. If they've been off in another role somewhere else, my understanding is they have to go all the way back down to the bottom in order to start climbing all the way back up.'
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He stressed this was a national issue that the national College of Policing needed to examine.
In April 2016, the constabulary brought in its new Suffolk Local Policing Model. As part of the changes, the number of PCs the force budgeted for reduced from 573 to 560 and the number of PCSOs went from 166 to 107.
Last week Bury St Edmunds Town Council said the force was unable to immediately recruit a second PCSO for the town, funded by the council.
Mr Passmore said: 'Our average strength of PCSOs was 95 when the budget was for 107. We're short of 12 PCSOs and that doesn't include the extra one for Bury Town Council.
'I'm aware of the difficulty and have been for some time. That's why I brought it up in February. It's a perfectly legitimate point that when people come to work for the constabulary in positions like that then you have to do vetting and make sure they're the right sort of people.
'The public wouldn't expect any less than that. It does mean it can be quite a challenge to recruit people and in sufficient numbers.'