A former senior detective, who is now a cabinet member on Lancashire County Council, has blasted the role of Police and Community Support Officers (PCSOs), which he says has fallen victim to “mission creep”.
“Instead of being out on the beat, reassuring the public and preventing crime, they’re acting as security guards on school buses,” County Coun Graham Gooch, the Member for Adult Services, told a cabinet meeting at county hall.
The former Detective Superintendent with Lancashire Constabulary was speaking just before a decision was taken to cut the council’s share of funding for 17 PCSOs.
“So they have taken the money from the council to patrol the streets – and then not used it for that purpose,” County Coun Gooch added. “If they used the money to make people feel more safe, I think we’d be a lot more sympathetic. But they are not doing that.”
The Conservative cabinet approved the withdrawal of part-funding for 15 PCSOs, whose role is to intervene early with young people and families to prevent low-level crime escalating, and a further two charged with improving safety on the bus network.
The proposal was first put forward during the budget-setting process earlier this year, but was then sent out for public consulation.
Ninety-one percent of just over 200 respondents strongly disagreed with the removal of funding for early intervention work, while 85 percent were against ending support for the bus-based officers.
A report before cabinet suggested a “consolidation” of existing PCSO budgets would mean Lancashire Constabulary was “likely” to be able to retain nine out of the 17 affected roles.