Olly promises to save PCSOs

PCSOs facing the chop will be protected, the Police and Crime Commissioner vowed yesterday (January 31).

Due to Government funding cuts of 20 per cent, 40 per cent of Beds PCSOs were set be axed.

Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins said he was determined to save the “crucial resource not only in the fight against crime itself, but also the fear of crime.”

Mr Martins said: “It has become abundantly clear to me just how valued Bedfordshire’s PCSOs are in the communities they serve and how their presence contributes to feelings of safety and wellbeing for residents, particularly in rural areas. Public confidence is as important to policing as reducing offences and has a positive effect on quality of life. It is clear that PCSOs are playing a key role in reassurance and reducing the fear of crime.”

Saving the PCSOs will come at a cost, equating to an increase of 6p a week for the average council tax band D householder.

Had the Commissioner accepted the Government’s incentive grant to freeze council tax, the force would be £1.5 million worse off over the four years to 2016-17 which the Commissioner said would have resulted in unacceptable cuts to the number of police officers and staff.

Mr Martins said: “It is a difficult decision to increase the precept rate, especially at a time when so many people are struggling financially. However this small rise will help protect this highly respected element of local policing, both now and in the future, while helping to ensure that we continue to make residents feel safe.

“It is highly likely that funding from central Government will continue to fall in the future and this budget attempts to lessen these pressures to some degree and ensure we will not be forced to make further service cuts to fill the gap.”

Mr Martins will meet serving PCSOs in the coming weeks to talk to them first-hand about local policing needs and how their work is helping to combat crime and anti-social behaviour.

The Commissioner’s budget will be discussed by members of the Police and Crime Panel at its meeting next week.