Wyre ‘pulls’ its funding for PCSOs

Wyre Council has axed part funding for PCSOs after its leader said the system was “totally unfair”.

Thursday, 28th February 2013, 11:16 am

The move puts a major doubt over the future of PCSOs in the Garstang area and other parts of the borough.

Wyre’s Cabinet said it “reluctantly decided to cease funding for police community support officers due to inequitable funding arrangements across the county.”

The council has contributed more than £1m towards PCSOs since 2006 and part-funds 11 officers in the borough, including two at Garstang, alongside 13 fully funded by the police.

Yet neighbouring Fylde Council, which decided some years ago not to part fund any PCSOs, has 18 fully police-funded officers.

Wyre’s arrangement is now due to end on March 31.

The leader of Wyre Council, Coun Peter Gibson, said: “We have supported PCSOs over a number of years, despite significant cuts in Government funding and even though the system is totally unfair to Wyre residents.

“Other local authorities who do not contribute any funding at all have more officers on the beat than we do. Don’t ask me the logic of it, because I don’t know. This is clearly an unfair situation and does not represent value for money for Wyre residents, particularly when we are facing further cuts to our funding.

“While I acknowledge the valuable contribution PCSOs have made towards maintaining Wyre as a safe place to live, the overwhelming view is that people value PCSOs but they think the police should pay for them.”

The council has provided additional support to the police by housing the local neighbourhood policing team free of charge in the civic centre bungalow and making a van available for transport.

CCTV provision has also been centralised at the civic centre and is managed by the council.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, Clive Grunshaw, said he was “very disappointed” with the decision.

He said: “The offer of part-funded PCSOs is a fair one and gives districts the opportunity to boost their PCSO numbers beyond that of the resources available to the police.

“I do have sympathy for the position Wyre Council finds itself in, as the police are also making difficult decisions based on finances.

“However, the police cannot continue to fund these part-funded posts without the contribution from councils.

“What I can commit to is prioritising frontline policing throughout this challenging period of cuts.

“That’s not to say that it’s just about maintaining police officer and PCSOs numbers. It’s about accepting that within the current financial climate, changes are needed to policing services and to meet that challenge head-on means getting serious about police service redesign on the ground.

“Lancashire Police is working hard to achieve this by managing and reducing demand, matching resources to risk and threat and ensuring officers are where they need to be at the times they are needed.”