PCSOs could be saved in deal with patrollers

Proposals are underway to increase the numbers of PCSO's by reducing the number of neighbourhood patrollers.'PCSO Gareth Owen, with, in the background, Council Leader Peter Box, Cllr Mark Burns-Williamson (chair of West Yorkshire Police Authority) and Chief Superintendent Marc Callaghan.'w4631a110

Proposals are underway to increase the numbers of PCSO's by reducing the number of neighbourhood patrollers.'PCSO Gareth Owen, with, in the background, Council Leader Peter Box, Cllr Mark Burns-Williamson (chair of West Yorkshire Police Authority) and Chief Superintendent Marc Callaghan.'w4631a110

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They will pay £592,000 over the next two years to increase the number of PCSOs from 28 to 33 but it would mean the loss of seven of the council’s neighbourhood patrollers.

And the move comes as the police are bracing themselves for job losses and budget cuts of up to 20 per cent.

The proposal, which could see a transfer of powers from neighbourhood patrollers to community support officers, goes before the council’s cabinet on Tuesday.

It is designed to save almost £300,000 and plug a funding gap created by central government cuts which threatened to slash PCSOs numbers.

Council leader Peter Box said: “The main rationale for doing this making people feel safer by putting more PCSOs on the streets. It’s simply not a cost saving exercise.”

The PCSOs will be attached to neighbourhood police teams.

Chief Supt Marc Callaghan, Wakefield District Police Divisional Commander, said: “The more funding that we can get, the more visible presence we will have on the streets of Wakefield which we know makes people feel safe.

“We will work on neighbourhood priorities - if issues are raised as a priority we will look at ways of addressing that working together with the council.

“The PSCOs are there to deal with issues that matter to the local community.”

Under the plans, PCSOs would focus on anti-social behaviour but they would also be given powers to hand out council fines for offences including littering.

The remaining 10 neighbourhood patrollers would focus on environmental problems such as graffiti.

Coun Mark Burns-Williamson, chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Authority, said similar proposals had also been presented to councils in Leeds and Bradford.

Andrew Balchin, the council’s corporate director for communities, said: “By sharing management and back office costs we can invest in frontline PCSOs and ensure that our resources are on the streets and visible to local people.”