POLICE community support officers are replacing bobbies as the first point of contact for some communities in South Yorkshire – and they could get more powers.
In some communities, PCSOs are now known as local beat officers and are the first point of contact for members of the public – to free up bobbies to carry out investigative work and arrests.
South Yorkshire Police, which needs to find savings of £40 million over the next few years, has had to shed posts across the force and bosses are now looking at using PCSOs more effectively.
They want the officers to be granted additional police powers so they can perform more functions – and they want them to be able to work until midnight rather than knocking off at 10pm as they do now under their current contracts.
Last week, police chiefs reduced the number of Safer Neighbourhood Teams operating across the county, to align them to local council boundaries to make it easier for organisations to provide a joined-up approach to problem solving.
The change to the neighbourhood policing model has seen SNTs covering larger areas and more communities, and has led to the closure of some bases.
In his report on the new model, Chief Constable David Crompton said the move to using PCSOs on the frontline was to ensure ’staff are working in the most appropriate roles’ and ‘in the most effective locations’.
He said: “PCSOs will move to being local beat officers, becoming responsible for a beat or a number of beats, as the named first line of contact for local communities.”
His report said PCSO’s have a ‘restricted number of the powers’, but plans were afoot to apply for permission to grant them additional policing powers to make better use of the members of staff.
A total of 22 new PCSOs are also going to be taken on by South Yorkshire Police over the next 12 months.