Police ‘hoarded’ funding for community officers

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POLICE chiefs have been accused of banking cash given by South Yorkshire councils to protect community support officers’ jobs – as well as hoarding £1 million of Government funding meant to have been spent on the posts.

Sheffield Council and Barnsley Council each provide funding to cover the cost of officers, who work in neighbourhoods building up community relations and supporting regular colleagues.

However, a report to the South Yorkshire Police Authority reveals that in 2010/11 only 296 PCSOs were employed when the Home Office had provided funding to pay for 328 – leaving £1m unspent.

At the same time, the authority received £450,000 extra cash from Sheffield Council to cover further PCSOs’ posts, as well as a similar sum from Barnsley Council.

But police authority papers reveal some of the unspent PCSO funding has been put into a reserve fund which now totals £513,726.

The news about the police authority’s PCSO budget follows revelations the force banked more than £6m meant for bobbies on the beat.

In Sheffield, the council is continuing to pay South Yorkshire Police £387,000 towards the salaries of 15 PCSOs, a reduced sum due to spending cuts, while Barnsley Council still provides £504,000 each year towards four police and 12 PCSOs to combat anti-social behaviour.

At the same time, four out of the 10 Sheffield Council workers who work with the city’s safer neighbourhood policing teams are being axed.

Jon Mordecai, regional officer for trade union Unison, said: “It looks like funding provided by councils has not paid for any PCSOs, but was hoarded into the bank, as South Yorkshire Police hasn’t even provided the number of PCSOs the Home Office provides funding for.

“The money the councils have been giving could have been used to protect other jobs and services, including these four council-employed safer neighbourhood officers who work to coordinate efforts to combat anti-social behaviour.”