PCSOs look safe for another year

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The position of Garstang’s police community support officers in Wyre’s villages looks secure for a further year – but uncertainty remains over their longer term future.

Wyre Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee has resolved the authority should continue to part-fund the 10 PCSOs until March 2014.

However, the council’s full cabinet must now decide whether to back the recommendation, or leave the area with just 14 police-funded PCSO posts.

It remains unclear whether Government funding will be available to support the non-warranted police staff beyond March 2014.

Michael Ryan, the council’s corporate director of people and places, presented a quarterly performance report for the area PCSOs from July to September this year. He said the council’s part-funding of 10 PCSOs would run out at the end of March 2013, and that while the Home Office had agreed to make funding available for PCSOs for a further 12 months from April 1, it had not guaranteed any funding beyond that date.

He said the council would have to consider competing budget priorities once the Government releases the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

Chief Insp Ian Sewart, of Lancashire Police, hailed the work of PCSOs in Wyre.

He said there had been year-on -year reductions in incidents of anti-social behaviour and criminal damage and referred to a public satisfaction rate of 90% regarding the way in which anti-social behaviour was dealt with.

He said if Wyre withdrew funding 10 PCSO posts would disappear, as would all the projects on which they had been working.

Coun David Walmsley, who sits on the committee, backed this view and expressed concern if the council withdrew its funding all the experience built up by the PCSOs would be lost.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “In our communities PCSOs do a fantastic job, not only in terms of crime but in terms of tackling anti-social behaviour and other issues.

“We value the contribution they make to our local neighbourhoods and the committee decided to commit financial support for the next financial year.

“That is a recommendation from us at the moment and it has to go to the cabinet for their consideration or approval.”

The next cabinet meeting will be held today.