Police cuts threaten neighbourhood policing at time of heightened terrorist threat, says UNISON

Nearly a third (30 per cent) of police community support officers (PCSOs) in England have been cut since 2010, says UNISON today (Monday). UNISON warns that the government’s determination to rid the country of local police patrols is placing the public at risk in the light of recent events in France.

The report – Neighbourhood Policing Facing Extinction – shows there has been a 30 per cent reduction in the number of PCSOs in England, with 4,592 jobs cuts since 2010.

But UNISON is warning that worse is potentially set to come as police forces fear they might see their budgets cut by up to 40 per cent later this week when the Chancellor announces his spending review. Many forces are saying this will have catastrophic consequences for the PCSO workforce and neighbourhood policing.

Police forces such as Lancashire, Merseyside and the Met have already said that more cuts could see them losing all their PCSOs, with others likely to follow.

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Neighbourhood policing is one of the safeguards that protects us against the threat of terrorism. Now more than ever, the public needs reassurance and a visible police presence.

“It’s ludicrous that ministers are still thinking about sacking more police staff following the recent atrocities in Paris.

“PCSOs are the eyes and ears on our streets. They know their patch, they patrol it every day. They are accessible and trusted by local people who can talk to them about concern in their communities, including terrorism.

“PCSOs are also a valuable police resource, their intelligence gathering and local knowledge allows police officers to carry on protecting the public, solving crimes and ensuring justice is done.

“We are calling on the Chancellor and Home Secretary to put a halt to all cuts to police budgets and ensure forces across the country have the resources they need to keep the public safe.”

Notes to editors:
The full report is available here.
There are currently under 12,300 PCSOs in post. They make up 75 per cent of the neighbourhood policing workforce.
The Welsh Assembly Government has protected the people of Wales by increasing the number of PCSOs since 2010.