People across Wealden are concerned changes to PCSO cover in towns and villages will lead to an increase in anti-social behaviour and street crime.
Chair of the Crowborough Community Association, Chantal Wilson said: “All PCSOs have been told they must re-apply for their jobs and several are set to leave. We are concerned policing will be ‘reactive,’ responding to where a problem has arisen, and that bobby-on-the-beat sense of security goes.”
More than 100 people attended Tuesday’s meeting at Crowborough Community Centre to hear Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katie Bourne describe the ‘redeployment’ of PCSOs to other parts of the county. The town council had paid for its own PCSO but that arrangement ends on April 6.
Concerned residents told Mrs Bourne that they have got to know their PCSOs - and the PCSOs know them and the districts they cover. They wondered whether it made sense logistically for PCSOs to have to check in at Hailsham every day?
The changes in PCSO cover will affect every town and village in Wealden.
Mrs Wilson added: “Thanks to terrific co-operation our anti-social behaviour problem here had all but stopped. We now fear there will be a significant disconnect between police and the community they serve.” And she explained that although Mrs Bourne said policing must be ‘more efficient,’ substantial changes will be made to the service for a saving of just two per cent; £200,000 being shaved from the county budget of £10million.
The Commissioner said PCSOs work to an ‘out of date’ 12 year old job description. Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith said: “The design is part of a broader need to transform neighbourhood and local policing, making the role more responsive, with greater responsibility and capability to solve local problems. We cannot however shy away from the fact that there will be fewer PCSOs. The number is based on analysis of the demands on the role and provides the minimum number required for the future model. While we will not have a physical police presence in every location we will deliver services proportionate to the levels of threat, risk and harm. People in each ward will have a team to contact rather than an individually named PCSO.”
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