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Thursday, 21 August 2014

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PCSO numbers in Cumbria fall by quarter since 2010

Police support workers have dropped by nearly a quarter in Cumbria in four years.

POlice Steve Johnson photo
Steve Johnson

According to figures released by Unison, the number has dropped by 22 per cent – the fifth highest nationally – and there are fears about the impact on crime levels.

Since 2010, numbers have dropped from 111 to 86.

Unison’s regional organiser for Cumbria, Dave Armstrong, said the county had seen “one of the most significant reductions in PCSOs in the UK”.

“This means there is a less visible police presence in our communities,” he said. “Patrols are important as they can be a deterrent to crime and provide reassurance and peace of mind for the public.”

A force spokesman said many of the support officers had joined the constabulary as full-time police officers but admitted budget constraints “continued to be a challenge”. He said they were currently recruiting for PCSOs to bring numbers back up.

Mr Armstrong, whose union represents some PCSOs, said: “With nearly a quarter of PCSO posts lost since 2010, the staff that remain are left with increased workloads and large geographical areas to cover. The service is over-stretched and under-resourced. Without adequate staffing both crime and the fear of crime can be expected to increase.”

Numbers have continued to decrease since Unison completed their research. There are now 79 PCSOs in Cumbria, the lowest number in police forces across the North West.

Chief Superintendent Steve Johnson said the support officers were cut “as part of the force restructure to address budget shortfalls”.

“During the review, the force reduced the number of Neighbourhood Policing Teams which enable us to restructure our PCSO cover to maximise their visibility within the community,” he said. “We continue to review our resourcing to ensure that we deploy officers and PCSOs where their skills can be used to maximum effect.

“Clearly officer and staff numbers continue to be reviewed as part of the constabulary’s commitment to providing a community-based service, which given the current savings requirement continues to be challenge. The current gap between establishment figures and actual numbers is being addressed by a current recruitment process for PCSOs, which will bring the numbers back to the establishment figure of 95.”

He said the reduction was caused by a number of support officers joining the force as police officers.

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