Cutting PCSO numbers has a real cost

Research shows investment in PSCO’s saves the justice system £56 for every £10 invested

police community support officer speaking into a radio

UNISON reiterated its call for an end to cuts to police community support officers (PCSOs) after new research revealed that their presence on the streets helped to deter criminals and reduce crime.

The union welcomed the research by the Cambridge University Institute of Criminology, which showed that high-visibility patrols cut time levels.

National officer Ben Priestley said: “We now have further proof that PCSOs cut crime. Every £10 invested in the role saves the criminal justice system £56.

And he added: “The public will no doubt be wondering why the government has slashed PCSO numbers by 30% since 2010.”

PCSO numbers have been cut by 30% since 2010 and the union’s own research earlier this year revealed that PCSOs have been taken off patrol duty to backfill other posts.

The Cambridge study looked at the effect of visible PCSOs on the streets, in 34 “hot spots” and found that 999 calls dropped by 20% and reported crimes by 39% over the year of the study.

In all, having PCSOs patrol each of the target areas for just over 20 minutes a day cost the equivalent of two salaries – but the university estimated that it saved more than quarter of a million pounds in prison costs.