Suffolk/Essex: Fears for future of neighbourhood policing as one in six PCSO jobs axed
More than one in six PCSO jobs in the eastern region have been cut since the start of the coalition government, according to union bosses.
A Unison report, titled Trouble in the Neighbourhood, has revealed a total of 268 frontline PCSO jobs, including 127 positions within Essex Police, have gone, despite ministers’ pledges to protect frontline policing.
The 28% reduction in Essex is the highest in the region, compared to loss of six PCSOs in Suffolk and 23 in Norfolk.
Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said: “Neighbourhood policing is dying on the beat. What took years to build up is being lost because of reckless government cuts.
“The government’s claims that frontline policing would be protected are in tatters. The cuts on neighbourhood teams are putting the public safety into jeopardy. That is why we are calling on the government to fund and maintain neighbourhood policing teams at their 2010 level.
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“Because the fall in the number of PCSOs will impact on how safe people are, we also want Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to investigate neighbourhood policing to see how the cuts have affected the quality of service.”
A Home Office spokesman said police reform is working and independent measures have revealed crime levels have fallen by more than 10% under the coalition.
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“There is no question police will still have the resources to do their work and forces have shown an ability to make savings while still cutting crime,” he added.
“The government strongly supports neighbourhood policing, which provides a visible presence in communities, cutting crime and disorder.
“HMIC has made clear that there is no simple link between officer numbers and crime levels or the visibility of the police in the community.
“It is for chief constables to decide how neighbourhood policing teams are resourced and deployed and for police and crime commissioners to ensure forces are delivering on the issues that matter to local people.”