‘Local policing’ review highlights funding crisis driving loss of PCSOs – neighbourhood services may rely on Specials and volunteers
Last week I took part in, as a member of a Devon County Council scrutiny committee, a ‘spotlight review’ on ‘local policing’ attended by senior officers including the Chief Constable. Local policing, it was explained, is different from neighbourhood policing as it is delivered by officers behind computers in headquarters and other specialists, some of whom will not be uniformed, as well as on the beat in a neighbourhood. The planned drastic reductions in the numbers of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) are part of this transition, and the police made it clear that while they are not happy with this, they see it as the inevitable consequence of reduced funding. If there is any hope of keeping up the level of neighbourhood policing it may lie, it was suggested, in recruiting an increased number of Specials with a neighbourhood brief, and other volunteers.
I am a member of the scrutiny committee’s panel which will produce recommendations from this review. Without prejudging our discussion, it is safe to say that there was general agreement that there is a huge gap between how the police see their role and how local communities see it. I will let you know if we find ways of bridging it!