Extra 160 PCs cannot cover every neighbourhood
Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Kathryn Holloway, has offered all parish councils the chance to decide whether to pay for a dedicated Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) for their local area.
The Commissioner has written to the councils to say that the emergency grant win in December and the Policing Settlement for all forces will allow her to recruit 160 Police Constables in this financial year.
However, she acknowledged that this would be insufficient to provide an officer for every neighbourhood. She said:
“A number of councillors who have attended my annual Parish Councils’ Conferences on three occasions have voiced the wish to be able to pay for a PCSO for their area.
“I understand precisely why as PCSOs represent the police service not police force in their emphasis on problem solving and genuine engagement with communities.
“I am reinstating an offer which I understand used to be available to parishes to fund a PCSO which the Force tell me would cost £31,200 each year, after it was explained to me that some of our parishes hold substantial cash reserves.”
PCSOs will not be lost into general policing duties
The PCC is also talking with the unitary authorities and town councils to make a similar offer. She is also providing reassurance that the PCSOs they might pay for will not be lost into general policing duties in other areas.
“I can appreciate entirely why this might be a concern, given all the constant pressures on the Force, but the Bedfordshire Police senior team has confirmed that it would be prepared to discuss agreeing a maximum time for abstraction from duty for a PCSO in a specific area in these circumstances.
“Obviously a Chief Constable must always be in charge of where every officer might be deployed in extremis but both sides would need a clear agreement around this.”
The Commissioner is presenting her budget to the Bedfordshire Police and Crime Panel next Tuesday (February 5 2019). She will announce her plans for the council tax share of police funding plus the number of Police Constables she is supporting the Force to recruit in the year 2019-20 and those planned for the following two years beyond this.