Cop crisis deepens as PCSOs face axe

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EIGHT community support officer posts have been axed in Wyre.

Figures revealed by Lancashire Police show eight of the 22 part-funded PCSO posts have been slashed.

Two wards in Cleveleys have had their PCSOs removed while Poulton and Thornton have seen their officers reduced by more than half.

Leader of the opposition, Coun Clive Grunshaw said he had “deep concerns” about policing in Wyre.

He added: “The neighbourhood policing strategy, including PCSOs, was a major success of the last Labour government.

“But because of cuts Lancashire Police are having to face a reduction of 800 police officers and staff as they struggle to find savings of £42m over the next four years.

“Several PCSOs have already left or been redeployed elsewhere and some wards which have had a dedicated PCSO for a number of years have now had this much-valued service withdrawn.

“I also think Wyre Council has deliberately misled the public by suggesting they had protected PCSOs when this is not true.

“With less PCSOs and closure of the front counters and police stations – it is the good citizens of Poulton and Cleveleys that are feeling the pain. “

A Wyre Council spokesman said it had no control over the amount of PCSOs it employs. The spokesman added “The council has not reduced funding for the PCSOs.

“Earmarked reserves are being used to part-fund PCSOs throughout the borough from April 2011 to March 2013.

“Their visible presence provides reassurance, particularly to our older population who have the greatest fear of crime.

“Although the council can influence PCSO activity in terms of tasks they carry out in the community, we have no control over numbers employed. That is a decision for the police.”

But police today said the council had revoked funding for the positions.

Chief Supt Richard Bayly, who is responsible for policing of the Wyre area, said: “These posts were part-funded by the local authority who took a decision under difficult financial pressures to withdraw the money they contribute towards the posts.

“We had always made it very clear that where funding was removed, we would have no choice but to relocate the PCSOs as with £42 million to find ourselves, we could simply not afford to put in the extra money. It is hugely regrettable that these officers have been moved as we worked hard to persuade the local authority to continue to fund them.”