WIGAN police chiefs today insisted there had been no cuts to the number of police community support officers patrolling the borough’s streets.
Unison, which represents the majority of PCSOs, claims that more than one in six such jobs in the North West have been cut since the coalition came to power.
But the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Sir Peter Fahy told the Wigan Evening Post that PCSOs play a “vital part” in neighbourhood policing. And he revealed that the force took on 53 recruits in January and a further 48 in April, following a further two intakes last year.
Sir Peter insisted: “GMP has maintained its budget for PCSOs with the support of the Police and Crime Commissioner. Any reduction in numbers is due to a number of temporary vacancies which have now been filled.”
Nationally, Unison fears cuts to PCSO numbers could lead to rise in crime. According the Unison report, 337 front line police community support officer (PCSO) jobs in the region have gone since 2011 – a 16 per cent reduction – despite Ministers’ public commitment to protect front line policing.
The report, Trouble in the Neighbourhood, claims that the number of PCSOs in Greater Manchester Police has been reduced over this period by six per cent.
And only five police forces out of the 39 in England have maintained or increased their number of PCSOs with
60 per cent of UNISON members working as PCSOs seeing cuts in staff or resources in their police force.
As well as a reduction in the number of PCSOs, cuts in supporting roles also impact on front line policing as PCSOs often find themselves covering for these roles and spending less time out in the community.
UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Neighbourhood policing is dying on the beat.
“What took years to build up is being lost because of reckless Government cuts.
“PCSOs are under growing pressure and they tell us how they have to cover larger beats and more of them have to work alone, often leading them to feel vulnerable.
“They play a key role in intelligence gathering, tackling minor crimes and anti social behaviour.”