Joint statement on future of PCSOs in Leeds (16 Oct 2015)

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) said: "There have once again been scare stories claiming the very future of PCSOs is in doubt and I want to set the record straight as these articles are unhelpful as they cause unnecessary concern amongst communities and distress to PCSOs themselves.

"PCSOs are a vital part of community safety and as long as I am Police and Crime Commissioner they will remain a key part of the neighbourhood policing model. Some police services are apparently considering scrapping them. Not me.

"What I will say is that the Police service is facing unprecedented times of Government cuts - West Yorkshire Police's budget will have reduced by over 30% in 2016/17 with further cuts to be announced by the Government in November. The stark reality of these cuts means that it will be very difficult to maintain the current levels of PCSOs.

"There will, however, still be a substantial amount that I am ring-fencing within the core budget as part of our Neighbourhood Policing model and I am guaranteeing funding for around 300.

"Due to uncertainty around police funding until November, no further decisions have been made at this point in time and neither could we be in a position to make those decisions until that is known, the exact deployment of PCSOs and police officers will be a matter for the Police and Council in due course.

"What I will do is to continue to strive to reach the best deal I can in terms of what is affordable for both the police and local councils. It is the Government that has taken a gamble with community safety by not protecting the policing budget and this is and will continue to have real consequences on the ground."

Chief Superintendent Paul Money, Leeds District Commander, said: "Following some reporting in the local media today about the future of Police Community Support Officers in Leeds, I urgently need to clarify the situation to avoid unnecessary anxiety being caused to the public and to our staff.

"While there are still some decisions to be made, it is wholly inaccurate to suggest that the Leeds District could face having only 67 PCSOs. This fails to take into account the 100-plus Leeds PCSOs that are wholly funded by West Yorkshire Police along with more than 20 part-funded by other partner agencies. Although negotiations are ongoing we anticipate Leeds district will continue to have in excess of 200 PCSOs into the next year.

"PCSOs make a vital contribution to keeping our communities safe and we continue to value their input and see them as a key component in the future of neighbourhood policing. Leeds City Council clearly recognises the importance of their role and is committed to maintaining the work of PCSOs in our communities."

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member responsible for environmental protection and community safety, said: "Despite unprecedented cuts from central government over the past few years, we have maintained our support for the city's PCSOs, however no service is immune to cost pressures in the current climate and we are now in a position where we are having to review the level of funding we can provide.

"We are now actively working with the police on a model that both organisations can afford which seeks to preserve some of the essential elements of Neighbourhood Policing and builds on existing successful partnership initiatives.

"It is important to note though that between ourselves, West Yorkshire Police and other partners that there will be funding for significantly more than 67 PCSOs in Leeds."

Garry Bull, Joint Branch Secretary for the West Yorkshire Police Branch of UNISON, said: "Whilst PCSO numbers are under review, there has been no indication of wholesale cuts or removal of PCSOs within Leeds District and West Yorkshire as a whole.

"PCSOs are a vital part of policing, providing a frontline service working directly with our communities and partners and it is unhelpful both to my members and the communities they serve that the context of this article could be misconstrued causing unnecessary concern."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2018