The Home Secretary’s initiative to change the role of PCSOs and to give powers to a new range of volunteers is a mistake that would cause confusion, says Alun Michael, the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner.
“This consultation is unsettling for communities, is muddled in its approach and risks causing confusion and unnecessary fears in the communities of South Wales,” he said. “There’s no need for it because there is already flexibility in the system, and Theresa May’s suggestion would reduce flexibility as well as confusing everyone.
“I would like to reassure all of our communities in South Wales that irrespective of this consultation, we will not be replacing our PCSOs with volunteers and we will not be retreating from the emphasis we place on community policing, which is at the heart of our approach in South Wales. The Chief Constable, Peter Vaughan and I are united in this approach.
“The impact of PSCOs in Wales is already greater than in England – they have comparatively few PCSOs in London for example and that is part of the problem. Because of the priorities given by Welsh Government we have an additional 205 PSCOs in South Wales and wherever I go I hear of the value that is placed on them by local communities, councillors and everyone else.
“Theresa May suggests that we should recruit more volunteers but that is already happening without her suggesting it – we don’t need top-down creation of new categories by the Home Office. We greatly value the volunteers who inspect custody facilities and those who volunteer as special constables and in a variety of other roles. We are recruiting more special constables over the coming months because their numbers in South Wales had dropped significantly and I would invite anyone who is willing to volunteer in any capacity in South Wales to get in touch with me – we value your contribution.
“Police Officers are under greater pressure than ever before because of the swingeing cuts that were imposed by the coalition government over the last five years and we know that we are going to have even greater cuts over the next four years. That can’t be ignored and our police officers deserve your respect, support and encouragement as we seek to do more with less and to avoid any diminution in the quality of policing in South Wales.
“We will face the challenges ahead by continuing to place neighbourhood policing at the heart of our approach and will not be implementing the changes outlined by the Home Office. What we need now is to support our police officers and PCSOs in getting on with the job of engaging with our communities and keeping South Wales safe.”