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Police: Community Support Officers

Volume 697: debated on Monday 17 December 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proposals they have for (a) extending the responsibilities of, and (b) funding, community support officers when present arrangements expire in 2008. [HL806]

Police community support officers—PCSOs—are an invaluable addition to policing and have a primary focus on engaging with their local community, providing high visibility reassurance policing and dealing with low-level crime and anti-social behaviour. Their responsibilities are primarily determined locally by chief constables to suit local policing priorities.

From 1 December 2007, the Government have introduced a list of standard powers for PCSOs to ensure that all staff designated in this important role will have achieved a minimum standard of training and attained the appropriate level of competency. This will provide consistency of approach throughout England and Wales and provide clarity on the role of and expectations on PCSOs.

On 23 November, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced a project aimed at the greater standardisation of equipment, uniforms, training and career development. The Association of Chief Police Officers has commissioned the National Policing Improvement Agency—NPIA—to lead this project, which will report shortly. The project will work to ensure that the PCSO role is clear and understood and it will allow forces to learn lessons and enshrine good practice across the country. Since effective community engagement is a challenging and demanding task, requiring both mature and highly capable individuals, the Home Office will also now introduce a code of practice setting out that PCSOs should be at least 18 years old.

My right honourable friend informed Parliament in a Written Ministerial Statement of 6 December 2007 (Official Report, col. WS 224), of her proposals for allocation of police grant for England and Wales from 2008-09 to 2010-11. A total of £324 million will be made available in 2008-09, ring-fenced for neighbourhood policing including for police community support officers. The proposals include an increase of 2.7 per cent in each of the CSR years.