PCSO's - at the heart of our communities
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They are the familiar faces dressed in the black and blue uniform, and the reassuring visible presence of the Police in communities right across Wales since 2003. This week the four Welsh police forces will be be introducing you to some of them, and giving an insight into the various work they undertake at the heart of our communities to make them safer and better places to live, work and visit.
They defuse the fear of crime, keep people safe from harm and increase community trust and confidence by working with the local community to tackle issues of local concern.
PCSO’s are crucial to the success of our approach to neighbourhood policing and are a vital link between local communities and police. It is a career that plays a pivotal role in and can really make a difference in those communities – and to the most vulnerable.
This has been evident in the important part they’ve played during the Coronavirus health crisis. They have provided constant positive engagement with communities, using problem orientated policing plans to address issues and assist with controlling the stay at home/ non-essential travel phases of the pandemic. Community concerns have also been addressed by carrying out targeted joint patrols with partner agencies. The Welsh forces also provided PCSOs with the enhanced powers to enforce regulations and issue fixed penalty notices in exceptional circumstances.
It is different to being a warranted Police Officer, as they do not have the power of arrest, but they can detain people where necessary, and have designated powers surrounding anti-social behaviour, tobacco and alcohol, and fixed penalty notices for example. The role supports police officers in a wide range of scenarios and they have taken on a number of enhanced, specialist roles in forces such as problem solving and cybercrime.
The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, added: “The Welsh Government has provided funding for Police Community Support Officers across Wales since 2011, and in the recent budget we confirmed our commitment for 2021-22.
“PCSOs provide a visible police presence at a local level, reassuring the public, understanding local needs, bridging the gap between communities and police forces, and helping to build a safer, more inclusive Wales.
“They have made a huge difference right across Wales throughout the Covid-19 pandemic response by helping to tackle local concerns and supporting the most vulnerable people in our communities. I want to applaud and celebrate the work they have done.”
Commissioner Alun Michael, Wales Lead for Police & Crime Commissioners on PCSOs, added: “The PCSO role is enormously valued by communities in every part of Wales and is vital in the way the four police forces in Wales have maintained neighbourhood policing through a period when Austerity led to some Forces in England stepping away from a part of policing that we regard as essential. It’s a valued role in its own right – whereas warranted police officers often have to be deployed to meet challenges, events and incidents that are often immediate and significant the whole point of PCSOs is to be there in the community all the time – and it works. Their role is threefold: communication by speaking to our communities and listening to what the public say, problem solving by working through the everyday issues that worry the community, and empowering the community by helping local people to improve the quality of life locally. Support from Welsh Government means that we have double the number of PCSOs to Forces in England and that strengthens the whole policing team in their role of helping our communities to be strong, safe and confident. And the individual stories of work done by our PCSOs is truly inspirational – complementing the superb work of our officers and the rest of our police staff in Wales.”
Policing Lead for Community Support Officers across Wales, T/Chief Constable Claire Parmenter said: “PCSOs play such a vital role in our communities, I know how valued they are and the fantastic work they do to prevent crime and reassure our communities across Wales. The four Welsh forces are supported by Welsh Government who fund a proportion of the PCSOs across Wales. This assists in maintaining this important resource at a time when Police forces have many competing funding demands. We really value and respect their work and recognise their dedication and commitment as we all work together to reduce harm and crime in Wales. I’m looking forward to hearing the stories of some of our dedicated and professional PCSOs this week – people may be surprised at the breadth and variety of their work and the significant impact they are having on communities.”