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Local services Axed: Save Our PCSOs

by johnpotter on 9 April, 2012

Top policemen and community leaders in Lancashire have attacked both the Labour and Conservative parties in Preston for their decision in council to cut PCSO funding by 69%.

Chief Supt James Lee spelt out a damning verdict on  saying, “Ultimately, it will be the community that suffers.

“This will make the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour in Preston a lot harder.”

PCSOs have a track record of reducing crime in the city and are often seen, not only as the eyes and ears of the police force, but as a reassuring community presence.

Protecting the PCSO budget last year was a deal-breaker for the Liberal Democrats when Preston Council was not controlled by Labour. Unbelievably, the Conservatives in council went along with the Labour plans and also voted to cut their funding by 69%.

(Cllr John Potter working with PCSOs and Traffic Police)

Lib Dem Fulwood Cllr John Potter said, “This is an incredibly thoughtless cut by the Labour and Conservative groups in Council and I’m worried how this might increase crime in the Fulwood area.”

The local Liberal Democrat proposals would protect the PCSO budget by ending the need to employ a private company to sit and watch CCTV footage 24 hours a day. Cllr Potter said, “It’s about choices. The CCTV will still be in operation, but we believe officers should be on our streets, not staring at screens. There is no evidence that live monitoring of CCTV has any affect on stopping crime in the city.”

The Lancashire Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, has also spoke out about the decision. Chairman Rachel Baines said, “It is the public which will suffer as a result of this. It is inevitable that this will lead to an increase in crime.”

Some areas of Preston will now be entirely without PCSOs. Gordon Wang, from the Ingol Community Association said, “All the good work that has been done to build up a community spirit in parts of Preston will be shattered if we lose the PCSOs

“It is counter-productive and is the start of a downward spiral.”

The national civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch has also condemned the actions of the Conservatives and Labour councillors on Preston council, in prioritising spending on cameras instead of men on the streets.

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