Essex: Concerns about less bobbies on the beat after changes to PCSO funding announced

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A council leader says she is concerned that changes to the way police community support officers in Essex are funded will leave her area with less bobbies on the beat.

From April, PCSOs will be paid for entirely by Essex Police rather than being paid for jointly by the force and local authorities. The force says the move will enable it to allocate officers where they are most needed rather than in a location where the authority has match-funded the cost.

Essex Police says it is “fully committed to the valuable role PCSOs perform within the force” and that the new arrangement will not lead to any redundancies.

A spokesman added: “The withdrawal of match-funding will mean more flexibility for the force in the deployment of staff to meet operational requirements. It is envisaged this will lead to a more effective and efficient workforce, allowing us to get coverage right instead of being constrained by funding dictates.”

But mayor of Frinton and Walton Town Council, Iris Johnson, described the changes as a “backwards move”.

She said: “At the moment we match-fund six PCSOs at a cost of around £100,000. They have proved very popular and are a godsend.

“They are our ears and eyes on the ground and support other police who are in patrol cars. They also have a valuable role to play in working with children and building relationships with them.”

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She added: “It’s a worry that we will no longer have a say in how many will be working in our area and the concern is that they will get sent to areas where there are higher crime rates such as Clacton.”

Under the new arrangements, councils will still be able to employ additional PCSOs above their allocation but they will be have to pay the total cost themselves. According to the Essex Police website, full-time PCSOs earn just over £18,000 per annum.

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