Decades of police work ‘wasted’ if 72 PCSOs go say campaigners as 21,000 oppose cuts
Decades of community policing will be “wasted” if a petition to save the jobs of 72 Nottinghamshire community support officers fails, say union campaigners.
Dozens of Unison members met with Paddy Tipping, the county’s police and crime commissioner today to hand in a petition of 21,152 signatures against the proposed job losses.
Unions are calling for an increase in council tax of less than £5 to pay for the PCSOs set to be axed in the latest round of Government cuts to the police force budget.
Nottinghamshire Police is looking to find £12 million of savings to combat cuts of 5.3 per cent and has already slashed £42 million from its budget in the past three years.
Ash Morley, secretary of the Nottinghamshire Police branch of Unison and a former PCSO in Radford, said: “The public is overwhelmingly against these cuts. PCSOs have spent decades building up relationships with the public, who before now did not trust the police or believe in what they were doing.
“If these jobs go, all that hard work will be wasted. I remember being in situations surrounded by people who did not respect the police, but by the time I left the streets it was completely different.”
There are currently 326 PCSOs in Nottinghamshire and, if the suggested cuts go through, nearly a quarter will be lost.
Steve Wake, a disability officer for Unison who works in the force control room, handed the petition to Mr Tipping at the commissioner’s Arnot Hill House headquarters in Arnold.
“As a control room operator a lot of the calls I deal with are anti-social behaviour, things like parties and loud noise,” said Mr Wake, 45, of Rise Park, who collected more than 2,000 signatures – the highest individual total.
“These are things that can be resolved by sensible community police work, by the PCSOs. If we cut their jobs, it will put extra pressure on police officers – who are already stretched,” he added.
PCSOs do not have the power to arrest, but can demand the name and address of someone committing anti-social behaviour and issue fixed-penalty notices for offences like littering.
Mr Tipping said the petition was the largest he has received to date.
“They don’t need to convince me of the benefits of community policing,” he said. “But ultimately this boils down to Government funding cuts and they don’t necessarily share my opinion.
“There’s a discussion taking place to raise council tax by more than two per cent without a referendum, which could be a more sensible way forward than a risky referendum.”
No referendum could take place before May 5, 2016.
Broxtowe Borough Councilors Steve Carr and Richard MacRae who have both been campaigning against the cuts to PCSOs were also there today to hand over the petition. Both Councillors also spoke to Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping on the important role the PCSOs perform in the communities they represent.