14th March 2018
Part 2: Should Police Community Support Officers Become Community Safety Officers?
Since Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) were first introduced in April 2003 as the result of the Police Reform Act 2002, there has been some confusion over their role and responsibilities. For example; should PCSOs be deployed in locations where they are likely to come into conflict with members of the public or encounter a high-risk activity, even though they are expected to resolve anti-social behavior problems?
There are also issues over what protective equipment PCSOs should carry, what enforcement powers they should have to deal with a myriad of policing issues and what are their geographical areas of jurisdiction? The answer to these questions and the decisions made can vary from one police force to another in England and Wales, at the discretion of Chief Police Officers.
In addition to PCSOs, there are traffic wardens, litter wardens, park wardens, parking enforcement officers, enforcement agents and civil enforcement officers patrolling in various Unitary Authority areas in Wales, all with different enforcement powers and wearing different styles of uniform. This is very fragmented and can be very confusing for members of the public.
I propose that reform is needed and all of these different officers, (including PCSOs) and wardens across Wales should be retrained as Community Safety Officers (CSOs) under the auspices of the single Community Safety Commissioner for Wales and deployed by the Community Safety Manager for each BCU/Unitary Authority area in agreement with the three BCU Commanders (Police, Ambulance, and Fire and Rescue) and in accordance with the local priorities identified in the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) Tasking and Coordinating Group Meetings, as part of the National Intelligence Model (NIM). The gathering of Community Intelligence should also be a major factor in their deployment.
All CSOs should wear the same style of uniform, (the current PCSO uniform may suffice), have the same protective equipment, the same enforcement powers and the same jurisdiction (i.e. all Wales), and be deployed to assist the Police, Ambulance, and Fire and Rescue Services when appropriate. The style of uniform, equipment and enforcement powers should be determined by the Community Safety Commissioner and the three Chief Officers for the Police, Ambulance, and Fire and Rescue Services, whilst taking into consideration United Kingdom (UK) policing standards.
Specially trained CSOs could also be used in schools, colleges and universities to deliver targeted educational packages in relation to the Police, Ambulance, and Fire and Rescue Services, within an all Wales Community Safety curriculum. For example; a Police Service package on the dangers of carrying knives, an Ambulance Service package on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and a Fire and Rescue Service package on the dangers of starting grass fires. This could easily be developed from the existing All Wales School Liaison Core Programme (AWSLCP) encompassing a tri-service community safety approach, including national (all Wales), regional and local BCU community safety priorities. These CSOs would eventually replace the police constables who currently perform a similar role within the AWSLCP.
I also propose the formation of a Community Safety Reserve, made up of volunteers who would work alongside their CSO counterparts, as Community Safety Reservists (CSR). CSRs should be trained to the same level as CSOs and have the same uniform, equipment, enforcement powers and jurisdiction.
The deployment of CSOs in this manner would increase the visibility and familiarity of community safety staff in communities and with the correct communication and marketing, members of the public would be made aware of the enforcement powers available to all CSOs.
Please see previous blog:
Dr Garry Thomas, TSF
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