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Police and crime panel raise ‘serious concerns’ over plans to axe half of Suffolk’s PCSOs

PUBLISHED: 16:12 22 July 2018 | UPDATED: 17:36 23 July 2018

PCSO numbers will be cut by around half under the new plans Picture: GREGG BROWN

PCSO numbers will be cut by around half under the new plans Picture: GREGG BROWN

A dedicated panel which holds Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner to account has expressed “serious concerns” over plans to axe half of the county’s PCSOs.

Former Ipswich mayor Bill Quinton described the PCSOs in Ipswich as a 'godsend' Picture: GREGG BROWNFormer Ipswich mayor Bill Quinton described the PCSOs in Ipswich as a 'godsend' Picture: GREGG BROWN

Suffolk police last week announced a consultation had been launched over cost-cutting measures which would see more than 100 officers move into safer neighbourhood teams but cut the number of PCSOs from 81 to 48.

Chief Constable Gareth Wilson said he acknowledged the important role PCSOs played but it was about ensuring the “right resources are in the right place at the right time”.

On Friday Suffolk’s police and crime panel in Lowestoft raised “serious concerns” over the plans.

Peter Gardiner, Ipswich borough and Suffolk county councillor on the panel said: “We are the mouthpiece of the community and they will have already seen some of the publicity that has gone out.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore said he hoped PCSOs could be found other roles in the force Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore said he hoped PCSOs could be found other roles in the force Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“We have a duty as a panel to give some feedback to it [the consultation].”

Suffolk county councillor Bill Quinton who represents the Priory Heath ward in Ipswich added: “We were very, very disappointed when we heard that PCSOs were going to be cut in whatever way.

“The last time this [anti-social behaviour problem in Ipswich] happened they were a godsend.

“They talked to real people, the mums and dads, with information that was invaluable – why are we cutting something we know works?”

The panel agreed to consider the details in the proposed cuts and reconvene at its August workshop where any ideas of ways in which PCSOs could be kept would be tabled and put forward as part of the consultation.

Police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said: “I had had it proposed to get rid of the whole lot, and I said ‘no, we cannot do that.’

“I would much rather not have been in this position. I find it very painful that anyone should lose their job.”

He added: “National government should do more and be more supportive of Suffolk.”

Mr Passmore vowed to continue lobbying for fairer funding from central government, and expressed a hope that PCSOs who would lose their job could be either be found another role within the constabulary or supported to find another role outside of the force.

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