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Offline Bob Horrocks

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Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« on: June 09, 2006, 02:08:09 pm »
At a public meeting earlier this year in Brookmans Park attended by about 100 residents, a strong desire was expressed for more police presence in the area.  North Mymms Parish Council then met a police Inspector to find out the details of an offer of a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) 

In the next week or so every house in North Mymms parish should receive a letter from the parish council asking you to vote on funding a PCSO. The closing date is 14 July 2006 which will enable the results to be presented at the parish council meeting on 26 July. 

Responses are to be sent to the parish council office in Bushwood Close, off Dellsome Lane, Welham Green.  In addition, collection boxes for responses will be in the ‘Brookmans Park News’ shop and the Welham Green Post Office.

Please vote so that the wishes of the majority can be carried out.  Also, any help with deliveries would be appreciated – you can contact me via the IM symbol at the side of this posting.  Deliveries would only take you an hour or two at the most.

The offer is a PCSO dedicated to patrol this parish i.e. Brookmans Park, Welham Green, Bell Bar, and parts of Little Heath and Bullens Green.  It is subject to the parish council paying about £1,300 a month for a two-year period, which is 50% of the total cost. 

This could increase the precept raised by the Parish Council in the Council Tax bills for 2007/8 by up to 10%, apart from any other change due to inflation etc.  For 2006/7, general reserves might fund a PCSO for the last few months of the year.  As discussed previously, the North Mymms Parish Council precept increased by an average of 3.5% for the last 11 years.  This 40% increase compares with a national average Council Tax increase of about 80% over the last 9 years.         

John_fraser

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2006, 09:58:47 pm »
Personally, I have some problems with this. I know that this isn’t a referendum, at least not officially, but I imagine that the PC will take the results of this poll as a mandate. Indeed, if they do not intend to use the result of this as a mandate there seems little point in the exercise. Therefore, it is important that the vote is carried out in accordance with basic democratic principals. So I wonder of Bob, or anyone from the PC, could answer the following questions

  • Is it one vote per household, per registered voter or per person?
  • If it is one per household, what happens if the household is divided for and against? Is this vote taking just and full account of the wishes of people in large households?
  • If it is one vote per registered voter, what provisions are being made to ensure that only eligible voters can vote?
  • How is the anonymity of the voters being ensured, whist the PC still ensures the fraudulent votes are detected?
  • What independent body is overseeing the vote?

On the idea of a PCSO: If we show we are willing to pay additional tax for a service that should be included in our existing taxes then in future we will be expected (and forced) to pay to continue getting other services we currently use. Don’t’ belive me?
 
 Rubbish collection 'may be taxed'
 Road charge plans
 Council in school transport cut
 2,000 dentists walked away from the NHS after not signing a new contract

Need I go on?
 

Offline Greybeard

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2006, 08:11:05 am »
In this letter, will it tell us how much we are paying for policing already, and what we are getting for our money?
 

Offline southbury

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2006, 11:07:52 am »
John ,

I very much enjoy reading your lenghthy treatsies on the demoacratic process.

I think ( and I am sure I will be corrected if I am wrong ) that what Bob is trying to do is simply establish as to whether we want in some way to establish a safer environment for our families in North Mymms . Of course a better funded , better resourced and better managed police service would be ideal but is that likely . Do you expect to see more police on the streets of North Mymms serving local people and delivering on local issues.

However this is South-East England 2006 not Utopia and if I have to pay for more security for my family , friends and neighbours then that is life in 2006.

Should BOb and the Parish council really be made to explain their every move and motive (when unless I am wrong ?) they have already been democratically elected  and therefore do have a community mandate.

Where do you think that their (NMPC) motives lie .. surely with the community not some self-serving political agenda ?

Steve
 

Offline Nonloso

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2006, 02:58:56 pm »
The way that democracy works in this country is that we elect representatives based on their manifestos, who then do whatever they see fit during their term of office. If we don't like what they do, we vote them out the next time. It's up to them if they choose to consult the people they represent and it's up to them how they do the consultation.
They are accountable if they act dishonestly but not if they just do things you don't agree with.
If you don't like the way that local democracy works then you need to vote for a party in central government which will change things to how you want them. If such a party doesn't exist then you are free to start one and persuade people to vote for you based on your policies. This would be a much more positive activity than deconstructing every action of the unpaid volunteers on our parish council whio are trying to do the best they can to help our local community.
 

Offline Bob Horrocks

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2006, 09:17:31 pm »
Sorry about the length of this but a number of points have been raised which deserve answering.

The letter now being distributed is from the parish council, not me. I am merely the person keeping you informed on activities.  The letter simply asks if you are in favour or against this offer of a PCSO.  The paper is tinted so photocopies will be noticeable. The reply section does not ask for any identification.  If there are more than 3,600 replies then some are forgeries!  The results will be put to the NMPC meeting on 26 July and hopefully a decision will be made on whether or not to take up this offer.

It is one letter per house, so if there is a difference of opinion within the household, then don’t reply, or abide by the majority decision within the household.  The electoral register is irrelevant.   NMPC simply wants to know what residents want.  As to an independent overseer, this is not deciding whether or we are going to war in Iraq!  We are talking about a local PCSO at a cost of less than 2p a day per house.       

How much does it cost to police North Mymms parish?  Almost impossible to say.  Part of your Council Tax bill is paid to the police, part to the County Council, part to Welwyn Hatfield and part to the parish council.  Both the County and Welwyn Hatfield make contributions to Herts Police, and also central government of course.  NMPC does not make any direct payment to the police.

The letter being circulated states that this PCSO, working just in this parish, will cost NMPC (therefore you!) about £1,310 a month for 2 years once a PCSO has been employed.  Put another way, £16,000 a year split between 3,600 houses is an average of £4.50 a house a year, or less than 2p a day.

Incidentally, the 8 parish councillors did not have to produce a manifesto.  At the last election 10 people stood for the 10 positions so no vote was necessary.  We do not get involved in party politics at the meetings.  We simply try to do what we feel is best for the community in which we live.

On behalf of the parish council, I thank those who have volunteered to help distribute this letter.  This Brookmans Park website is a wonderful means of making contact with people who you would not normally meet.  Thanks very much to Dave and the team for creating this website.

Offline southbury

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2006, 07:30:11 am »
Bob

For what it's worth I think that many people are grateful for the work that people like you do on our behalf . I hide behind the excuse that I can not get fully  'involved' in local issues as I do not 'have the time' . Thank-goodness there are always community minded people that use their precious time and resources on our behalf and make it easier for the rest of us.

rgds
 

John_fraser

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2006, 09:11:48 pm »
For those who won’t read longish posts, does anyone know the answer to the following: I was chatting to an old friend who is a police officer in the Metropolitan Police. They told me that the Met has a policy that PCSOs are not allowed to patrol on their own. They must be accompanied by a police officer or another PCSO. Is the same policy implemented in Herts Police? Because, if it is, there seems little point hiring just one PCSO.

Nonloso,

Elections give representatives a mandate, but only a mandate. It does not give them totalitarian control until the next election. Every branch of government, right down to the PC should be open to public scrutiny and be required to justify its actions. That is the way democracy works in this country.

Southbury,

The PC has a mandate, but it wishes to establish if we are willing to pay for a PCSO (everyone wants a safer environment for our families, it’s just that I don’t think that a PCSO will achieve that). Fine, I have absolutely no issue with the PC doing some consultation. But I think if it is going to consult, then it should make sure that the results of the consultation are valid.

Bob,

Thank you for answering the questions. It strikes me that the result of this poll (or referendum) will be highly questionable if a house with several people will have no more weight than a house with a single occupant, when no precautions are made against letters being intercepted and there is no independent check on the fairness of the poll (or vote).  The decision to invade Iraq had no proper consultation and no independent checks – and look at the mess that’s turned into.
 

Offline Bob Horrocks

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2006, 05:32:33 pm »
If any household has divided views then each person can write a separate letter to NMPC to express their individual opinion, by 14 July please.  Address - Council Office, Bushwood Close, Welham Green, AL9 7YZ

For want of a better description,  what is being done is a survey.  As a result of this Forum discussion, several people have been generous enough to help with distributing this letter from NMPC, for which many thanks.   

Someone asked me how much this PCSO would cost per household.  £16,000 a year split between about 3,600 houses equals £4.50  or less than 2p a day per house.     (sorry, John, but these are rough and ready figures because not all houses are in the same Council Tax band).

The wording of the letter is neutral.  As for an independent check, is John suggesting that the results will be fiddled to produce a desired result?  I do not for one minute believe that the parish council would go against the outcome of the survey.  If the result is close, then who knows what will be decided?  As it stands, I do not know which way the other councillors would vote, and I have changed my mind twice in the last few days. 

As for accountability and openness, NMPC has had its own website www.NorthMymmsPC.ukf.net since last year and publishes the minutes of all council and committee minutes once they have been approved.  The annual Income and Expenditure Account and Balance Sheet as at 31 March 2006 will be added once they have been audited. 

Anyone can contact NMPC and express their view on any actions being taken, or not being taken by NMPC.  Every communication is considered seriously and replied to.  All 10 positions on NMPC will be coming up for election in May 2007.  The NMPC website includes a section on eligibility and duties of a parish councillor.

John_fraser

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2006, 09:58:58 pm »
Bob,

I did not suggest that the PC would fiddle the results, either deliberately or unconsciously, nor do I think it is intending to. My remarks on openness and accountability were clearly in direct answer to Nonsolo’s view that democracy is a once a year thing the starts and stops at the ballet box. But I think you knew that already.

What I do feel is that if the PC is going to ask what people want then it needs to make sure the answer it gets representative, otherwise the exercise is pointless – regardless of outcome. There remains a number of questions that cast doubt on the result (whatever the result) despite the tacked on split vote amendment. For example, why do the views of a person living in a house on their own count for as much as the views of several people living in one house?

John
 

Offline Bob Horrocks

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2006, 12:04:55 pm »
Good question John.

Each house receives one Council Tax bill so each house should give one opinion on the question posed in the circular letter since it will affect future Council Tax bills.

I feel certain that you did not imply any fiddle of the results etc, but I just wanted to clarify the situation.  At a parish council level of local government we operate at a very basic level of provision of services to local residents. 

NMPC is worried about the level of policing in the parish and a PCSO might be the answer, but NMPC wants to know what everyone else thinks. There may be other avenues which could be explored but a PCSO is what is currently on offer.

This is not casting any slur on PC JItu Dave and his fellow officers.  As I said to him at Village Day, I think he is doing a great community policing job and is very visible in the area.  For example, when did you last see a police officer going round talking to people in this annual fete?  Well done Jitu!

John_fraser

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2006, 04:12:46 pm »
Bob,

I had a feeling you were going to say that. The trouble is that it doesn’t hold water. If the weighting of views is based upon the bill then band H houses should be give more weight than a band A and 25% of the views from single occupant house should be discounted. Clearly this would be idiotic, which is why we tend to use a single no transferable vote in elections and view in polls.

On the PCSO: What guarantees do we have that the police won’t use the excuse of a PSCO to further reduce what limited patrols we currently have?
 

Offline Mermaid

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2006, 05:15:48 pm »

Where does Bob mention weighting? He merely says one bill per household, one vote per household. I'm sure that the majority of households will be able to reach an amicable agreement on which way to vote. If not, then it may be best to abstain.

 

John_fraser

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2006, 05:34:07 pm »
Quote
It strikes me that the result of this poll (or referendum) will be highly questionable if a house with several people will have no more weight than a house with a single occupant
Quote
Each house receives one Council Tax bill so each house should give one opinion on the question posed

So equal weight is given to each house, not each person as is normal, because there one payment per hous. Which reads as he who pays the piper... By that logic the amount of payment should decide the importance of the vote/opionion/whatever.

Another question on the PSCO: If after two years the PC decides not to keep the PCSO would they be entitled to redundancy pay and, if so, would the PCSO be liable?
 

Offline Peter Hastings

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2006, 05:39:37 pm »
I hope the PCSO already exists and it is a question of allocating to us if we bear some of the cost. There should be no redundancy if the PCSO is employed by Herts Constabulary as s/he can go elsewhere in the county. Anyway would be down to the employer-The Chief Constable.
 

Offline Mermaid

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2006, 06:19:04 pm »

If it's a two-year contract, there's no redundancy needed at the end of it anyway!
 

Offline Bob Horrocks

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2006, 09:16:15 pm »
 John said 'So equal weight is given to each house, not each person as is normal'.  Sorry John but normal what?  This survey by your parish council is something that has not happened before as far as I know.  It is a one-off.

John - the parish council is not a big business, for goodness sake!!!!!!  Your suggestion would cost more than the cost of the PCSO.   As it is, the survey will cost about £200 or 5.5p per house (3,600 houses), thanks to the volunteer distributors and my database of roads and numbers of houses in each road. 

For a 2-year period this PCSO would cost an average of less than 2p per house per day, maybe the cost of 2 or 3 pints of beer a year per house.     Hand on heart, John and admit that you are taking the you-know-what with your suggested hugely expensive alternative exercise in carrying out this survey.  And what would it gain that would be worth knowing?

The PCSO would be employed by the police force, not the parish council.  In view of the turmoil created by the Home Office, formerly ODPM, in the structure etc of the police forces, you can understand that the Herts Police were unable to say what might happen after the offered 2-year subsidy ends.


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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2006, 09:53:49 pm »
Well I wasn't going to say anything but it seems to me that if the vote is obviously heavily in one direction or another, then the decision would be clear no matter how the vote was carried out (unless only 3 houses vote of course). If it is fairly even for or against then I suppose the P Council would have to think again.

ATG
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John_fraser

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2006, 10:52:34 pm »
Normal as in "Normal procedures organizations take when they want to get a representative view on what people think." And what it it would gain that would be worth knowing is that the result is accurate (Mori and Gallup exist for a reason). Otherwise the 200GBP may as well be swapped for the tossing of a coin, because as it stands, not matter the outcome, you will have no idea if this is really what people think.  And I am 100% serious. Do it properly or why do it at all?

From your answer, do I take it that the PC has no idea what will happen at the end of two years?

Are the PC able to say what will stop the police using the PCSO to justify a further reduction in our cover?

Does the two year cost include any shift allowance?

Of the recent break ins, which prompted the meeting mentioned in your post on the 9th, how many took place prior to 11pm - the end time of the PCSO's cover as mentioned in the letter?

Has the PC spoken to the police about more frequent patrols? Patrols by real police.

How effective have PCSOs been in reducing crime in other areas?
 

Offline Bob Horrocks

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #19 on: June 24, 2006, 12:25:38 pm »
NMPC is damned by John if it consults and damned if it doesn't.  Is he really suggesing that NMPC employs MORI to conduct this survey?  It has neither the information, staff, or money to carry out what John is suggesting.  Taking John's theory of he who pays the piper etc, in a general election more  weighting should be given to voters who pay the most tax.  If I did not know otherwise I would suspect John of being employed by the Rural Payments Agency.

The questions he posed are for the police to answer, not NMPC.  NMPC was told that it could not have any more full police officer coverage than what is done now. 

The police do not know what shape, size, finance etc the police forces will have in 2 years time.  That is obvious from a casual reading of news reports.  Any promise of what might happen after 2 years could easily be overtaken by events, which is why the police refused to discuss beyond 2 years. 

Having seen the collection box in BP News, more than 3 people have given their opinion already.  The more replies the better.    There is also a collection box at Welham green Post Office, and you can mail your reply, or email it.  By 14 July please.

Correction made 26 June.   - emails and phone calls will be noted but response slips are what will be counted.  Sorry if I misled anyone.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2006, 11:50:13 am by Bob Horrocks »
 

John_fraser

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #20 on: June 24, 2006, 03:54:19 pm »
Bob,

If the PC is unable to answer the questions, or is unable to get the answers from the police, then it has no real idea of what it is paying for (i.e. asking us to pay for)  or how much it is actually going to have to pay. It appears that the PCSO idea has not been thought trough by the PC.

My theory is not, <i> who pays the piper calls the tune</i>, the remark was a parody of your one bill one opinion post and is clear so when read in context. The PC is not dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t. They are dammed if they try to do it in a poorly thought out  way

I’m sure there’s an insult in the RPA jibe, but it’s sadly wasted on me.

 

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #21 on: June 24, 2006, 08:33:35 pm »

In the next week or so every house in North Mymms parish should receive a letter from the parish council asking you to vote on funding a PCSO. The closing date is 14 July 2006 which will enable the results to be presented at the parish council meeting on 26 July.   


Hi Bob,

I am interested in this issue and have been trying to follow the robust and healthy debate in this forum, but I have still to receive any information. Are details being posted to residents in Moffats Lane? I'd like to know what is being proposed and what we are being asked.

David
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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #22 on: June 25, 2006, 07:27:40 am »
Dear all,

I have split this topic because it was buried under the council tax thread and, although it is also a council tax issue, it was becoming hard to find where this debate started within that thread.

Laurel at the Welwyn Hatfield Times has written a piece about this topic in this week's issue of the paper. Click here if you would like to read it.

David
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Offline Peter Hastings

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #23 on: June 25, 2006, 10:38:40 am »
It would be nice if more people were on the net and more got on the forum then the PC would have a clear idea of the balance of opinions without having to spend time and money trying to get it.

It seems to me since the PC dont have an obligation to consult, if they decide to do so they can do so on their own terms. I dont even think they are bound by the "result" in any way.

It is clear from the forum entries on Council Tax, local crime and local government that there is a range of opinions. What I think we could all do with more of from the police is information-What can a PCSO actually do and not do?, how much say does the PC get in where and when s/he works, why isnt it specified what happens after two years- what are the follow up options- when will we know during the 2 years etc.

If this is the preferred police option I think it is a pity someone a bit higher up than Jitu hasnt taken the trouble to address us directly and inform us, get our views.

As it is I am concerned that since the return of a form requires effort, there may well be a small return leaving the PC no better off than it started but knowing they will also get a lot of flak next time there is a burglary and/or the council tax goes through the roof.
 

Offline Bob Horrocks

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #24 on: June 25, 2006, 11:01:30 am »
All letters  should be delivered by the end of today Sunday 25 June.  This will give everyone 3 weeks in which to respond, or not.  

If anyone has not received theirs by Monday 26 June, would they please email me via the IM symbol at the side of this posting and I will contact the deliverer to see what happened.

Apologies to John.  The RPA was a cheap jibe which I now regret.  The comparison of the detailed and expensive survey that John suggests was with the overly complex RPA system of payments to farmers.  Many farmers claim they are being ruined by the complex Rural Payment application form and resulting delays in payments.  The UK - we taxpayers - is very likely to be fined millions of pounds by the EU for not making payments by the end of June deadline.  Other countries like Ireland used a simple application form and made their payments ages ago.  

NMPC is using a simple survey on funding a PCSO.  NMPC's finances would be ruined by paying MORI to carry out John's suggested complex survey, and your payment to NMPC would increase even more than the cost of a PCSO, even if the vote was 'no'.

The cost to NMPC is forecast as £16,150 for 2007/8.  That is what everyone is being asked to respond to.  It would be roughly 10% of what you pay now to the parish council.  

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #25 on: June 25, 2006, 12:49:21 pm »
Percentages are useful for comparison of course but as i see it this is going to cost my household £6pa in more council tax for each year in real terms.
 

John_fraser

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #26 on: June 25, 2006, 06:52:08 pm »
Quote
John's suggested complex survey, and your payment to NMPC would increase even more than the cost of a PCSO, even if the vote was 'no'.
I have suggested nothing of the sort. What I have suggested is that if you are going to take the time and expense to consult people then you should make sure that you get a reasonably accurate idea of what they want. As it stands, I think the PC is failing to do this.

I agree that the absolute figure of £6 seems trivial, but I feel that we are already paying a large increase to the police, who are failing to give us adequate cover. I also suspect that the PCSO, who is less effective than a real PC, will be used to make further cuts in the cover, thus making us even worse and it would be nice if the PC could have taken the time to get some assurances about this. Finally, if we fund this I will be willing to bet that we will be expected to fund even more PCSO in future.
 

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #27 on: June 25, 2006, 07:53:23 pm »
Is anyone able to scan the survey and attach it to this thread or copy and paste it here in the forum for those of us who haven't seen it please?

David
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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #28 on: June 26, 2006, 11:56:29 am »
Bob,

I've now seen the form. A neighbour kindly let me have a look at his.

During the NMPC's discussions with the chief constable, was he able to give any assurances that going down this route won't adversly affect our existing police cover in the future?

David
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Offline Mr Green

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Re: Our local PCSO - Police Community Support Officer
« Reply #29 on: June 26, 2006, 09:52:20 pm »

We know why the government wants PCSOs
•   Because they mask the lack of police officers on the street. Trained officers with preemptive powers of arrest and personal protective equipment are replaced by uniformed civilians. (If you believe they are complementary you really are naive).

We know why Chief Constables want PCSOs
•   Because they have been able to increase the ethnic minority percentage of their workforce in a quick recruitment – low training – highly visible – none promotional role.

Why does BP want a PCSO?
•   What problem do we have that they would solve? Let’s not just “keep up with the Jones’” and have one because someone else has one - but ask if we need one. Given not just the size of the area they would cover, (not just BP), but also the pull of the more challenging areas of their beat, I doubt you would see him or her wandering down your street very often.

PCSOs are supposed to be the new way of dealing with anti social behavior. If you are a law abiding resident with a strong sense of community then you are probably poorly qualified to gauge their worth. For a more informed view you would probably do better to ask a local yob how terrified they are at the prospect of a PCSO wandering by. 
 
 

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