COUNTY NEWS: Police respond to concerns about changes to neighbourhood policing
Sussex Police said that changes to neighbourhood policing will provide a more effective service to communities, despite cuts to officer numbers.
As of July 4, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) will have ‘enhanced powers’ as part of a new role, the force said.
Assistant Chief Constable Laurence Taylor is overseeing the implementation of the new policing model.
He said: “Across Sussex, from 4 July, PCSOs will be deployed when and where there is a need.
“Far from losing a policing presence, the local community will have PCSOs with enhanced skills and powers forming part of a wider prevention team.
“They will focus on those who are vulnerable and tackle local concerns rather than randomly patrol which is known to have little impact on crime.
“The new role will see PCSOs equipped with a wider range of skills to prevent crime and help solve local problems.
“Being part of the prevention team means that instead of relying on a dedicated PCSO, communities with a specific issue could have a whole team of PCSOs from the district, division or even the force come to them to help tackle their local problem. The dedicated team will develop a greater knowledge of local issues and provide support where needed.”
Current PSCOs have been given the opportunity to apply for the new role. Last week, a spokesperson for Sussex Police said 196 PCSOs will be employed under the new model. The force employed 259 PCSOs in December 2015.
Speaking to the County Times, a police source said that 76 PSCOs will be ‘glad’ to leave their posts on July 3.
The source said: “A vast majority of the PCSOs asked to apply for their own jobs chose not to, such is the poor morale and lack of confidence in the police and cuts to the force.
“These officers have had enough and are all leaving on July 3 and glad to get out.”
A statement from Sussex Police stressed that the new role was part of a ‘tailored approach’ and that communities will have access to the full range of regional and national policing services should the need arise.
ACC Taylor said: “I am aware of concerns in some communities and can assure people that we are being open and transparent in our approach for the future, which will see resources tailored to where local communities and neighbourhoods need them.
“The community will have a team to contact – by mobile phone or email - rather than an individually named PCSO, that will use police and partner premises throughout Sussex to ensure they can work closely to where the issues are.
“We are keen for the community to know how we are tailoring our approach to their needs and we are discussing these and answering questions at meetings with local councillors and the public regularly.
“We have advertised for people to join us in the new, enhanced role, and many of our current PCSOs have taken up this opportunity. Only one town has a locally-funded PCSO but under the new system from 4 July this will be provided by the force with a team to support, providing consistency across Sussex.
“I understand concerns when changes are made but communities can be assured that police will always be there when needed and will very much retain a presence in the area.”
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