NOTTINGHAMSHIRE Police chiefs have defended the work of community support officers after figures revealed the force’s 265 PCSOs cost £7m in wages last year – and detected just six crimes.
The 2009/10 figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the cost of PCSOs per crime has more than tripled to in excess of £1.1m, compared to £354,000 in 2008/09, when they detected 19 crimes for wages of £6.7m.
But in response to the findings, the force has said that the role of PCSOs is to provide a ‘visible uniformed presence’ in the communities they serve, to help make people feel safe and to stamp out low-level problems that can affect residents’ quality of life.
Deputy Chief Constable Chris Eyre said this week: “There is no doubt PCSOs provide absolute value for money and in Nottinghamshire they are used where they are most valuable to the public and that is at the very heart of the community.
“PCSOs work alongside police officers to give a continued and visible uniformed presence in both our urban and rural communities.
“The value they bring is by working with and listening to residents and setting priorities to tackle concerns, such as anti-social behaviour, speeding and littering.
“In addition, the work PCSOs carry out has allowed police officers more time to investigate and detect crime.
“I am pleased to say our detection rates are improving and we aim to be among the very best forces for detecting crime in the country.”
The powers of PCSOs in Nottinghamshire include confiscating alcohol and tobacco, removing abandoned vehicles and detaining someone suspected of committing an offence.
Earlier this month Nottinghamshire Police Authority backed the force’s plans to cut back on staff to save money.
The Government announced Nottinghamshire Police Force’s budget for next year, April 2011 to April 2012, would be £8.2m less then it received this year – an equivalent to a five per cent cut in funding, generating a shortfall of £10.3m over the year.