Nick Herbert condemns cuts in Police Community Support Officers
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has condemned the Government’s decision this week to abandon a manifesto pledge to recruit 24,000 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) by March 2008.
The announcement means that in Sussex, where the police had been planning for 525 PCSOs by March 2008, there will now only be 354.
The cuts in funding mean that the Government has broken its manifesto pledge at the last election to "take CSO numbers up to 24,000". Only a month ago, when questioned by Nick Herbert in Parliament, the Home Secretary said that "we [the Government] are committed to attaining those targets".
Sussex, which already has over 250 PCSOs - the highest number of any shire force - has led the way in the deployment of PCSOs to help tackle low level crime and antisocial behaviour, and provide reassurance to communities.
Mr Herbert, who is Shadow Minister for Police Reform, has highlighted the valuable work of PCSOs as a way to increase a uniformed presence on the streets.
He has called for a greater extension of the police "family", including PCSOs and neighbourhood wardens, to help support the work of police officers in tackling the growing challenge of anti-social behaviour.
Mr Herbert commented: "People want to see a uniformed presence on their streets to prevent crime and then deal with it effectively if it does take place. This broken promise will mean 171 fewer PCSOs in Sussex than originally planned, which is a serious loss.
"There is already a feeling that our villages don't receive enough local policing. People will ask why they are paying ever higher council tax bills when they don't get the services in return."
"I believe that local communities should have control over a share of budgets for services such as policing so that they can ensure a fair return for the money they raise."
Notes for Editors
1. Home Office Oral Questions - 23 October 2006
Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs) (Con): Will the Home Secretary give the House an absolute undertaking that the rumour that the Government are set to abandon their target of recruiting 24,000 police community support officers by March 2008 is without foundation? Will he explain how he proposes to recruit that number, given that he is only half way to meeting his target of 16,000 by next March?
John Reid: We fully accept that those targets are challenging; we have never said otherwise. However, we are committed to attaining those targets, including the very challenging one of recruiting 16,000 police community support officers by next April.
2. Labour Party Manifesto 2005
"So a new £340 million a year fund will take CSO numbers up to 24,000 - to work alongside the equivalent of an additional 12,000 police officers freed up for frontline duties."