Police to get more specialist officers

By Mark HeathMORE than 70 specialist support officers will be recruited across Essex and Suffolk to crack down on anti-social behaviour.The £41 million scheme will see 1,200 new community support officers (CSOs) signed up nationally, on top of the 1,350 already in post.

By Mark Heath

MORE than 70 specialist support officers will be recruited across Essex and Suffolk to crack down on anti-social behaviour.

The £41 million scheme will see 1,200 new community support officers (CSOs) signed up nationally, on top of the 1,350 already in post.

The specialist officers, who are employed by police authorities, specifically target low-level crime and anti-social behaviour with high-visibility patrols.


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They have a number of powers, including the authority to issue fixed penalty notices, confiscate alcohol and cigarettes from young people and seize vehicles causing alarm and distress.

Essex will receive 10 new CSOs this year followed by another 45 in 2003/2004, while Suffolk is set to recruit 15 next year.

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Home Secretary David Blunkett, who announced the scheme, said: "CSOs complement the work of police officers. They focus on low-level crime and anti-social and nuisance behaviour, which all too often undermine public confidence and make people's lives a misery.

"The CSOs already in place have proved a vital resource in providing high-visibility controls and freeing up officers to tackle more serious crime.

"But the police cannot win the fight against crime and nuisance behaviour alone – extending the police family will strengthen links with communities to bring about real change in the way that we tackle local issues and engage the public in tackling crimes that affect them most."

The announcement was welcomed by Essex Police and Suffolk Constabulary, which saw CSOs as a vital weapon in the fight against crime.

Chief Superintendent Ian Learmonth, of Essex Police, said: "Policing is as much about perceptions as it is about 'real' crime and in Essex, like every other county, public demand for visible patrols has never been greater.

"We, therefore, welcome the support and high-visibility public reassurance that community support officers will provide."

A spokesman for Suffolk police added: "Any additional resources which can help us achieve Suffolk First – the aim of making Suffolk the safest county in the country by 2006 – are to be welcomed.

"Community support officers should not be seen as a replacement for regular officers, but they can play a key role working alongside them."

mark.heath@eadt.co.uk

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