Town police learn Portuguese

POLICE Community Support Officers (PCSOs) in a Suffolk town are receiving Portuguese language and culture training to help them communicate with the community, it has emerged.

Danielle Nuttall

POLICE Community Support Officers (PCSOs) in a Suffolk town are receiving Portuguese language and culture training to help them communicate with the community, it has emerged.

The 10-week course, which is believed to have cost Suffolk police more than £1,000, is being supplied by Suffolk New College and involves a group of 14 PCSOs based in Ipswich.

Officers are learning basic Portuguese phrases such as 'how are you?' and how to say the time to ensure residents understand when they must appear at court.

They are also being taught cultural information to enable them to understand the Portuguese community.

Suffolk Constabulary says the pilot scheme is part of its long-term aim to improve communication between new emerging communities in the county.

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If successful, PCSOs in Ipswich could also undergo Polish language and culture training.

Chief Inspector Bruce Robinson, Ipswich District Commander, said: “This is an extension of our engagement plans with local communities and linked to Safer Neighbourhood Teams.

“One of the issues we have found is there are increasing numbers of Portuguese and new emerging communities coming into town and we need to do more work communicating with them so we can talk about their needs and fit these into our policing plan.

“We have linked up with Suffolk New College who are delivering training to our staff, predominantly PCSOs, to make sure they have some basic training in Portuguese, not only language but also the culture so they can better communicate to the Portuguese community.

“It's very much a trial at Ipswich. Some of the work we have done at street meets and other local surgeries indicated a need to develop skills in this area. We hope it will lead to bigger and better things.

“We are looking to develop engagement opportunities for all new emerging communities.”

The course got underway six weeks ago and involves one session per week of 1.5hours.

PCSOs are given homework every week to complete including puzzles and crosswords.

Sue Nunn, Suffolk New College's marketing co-ordinator, said: “It's really about building bridges with the community and making sure people are working to the same aim.”

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