New guidance for police community support officers

​A handbook with new guidance for police community support officers (PCSOs) will be published later this year.

The handbook is being created by our Local Policing Programme and will review and update the previous guidance published in 2007 by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

PCSOs were introduced in 2002 and are a valuable uniformed presence in communities and focus on understanding local priorities, solving local problems, tackling low-level crime and engaging with the community.

The Local Policing Programme was set up to establish a clear evidence base of "what works" in the field of local policing. It's work will help forces which are trying to tackle crime locally while dealing with a diminishing number of officers.

With forces having to make difficult decisions around resources, the work we are carrying out will help them to design their local policing teams around our body of evidence.

A revision in guidance for PCSOs was necessary given the passage of time and how the role has developed across all forces, especially in the current climate of austerity and reducing resources where a demand for service could lead to PCSOs operating outside of their core role and training.

We have been consulting with forces since last year to understand how PCSOs are used and whether there is a marked shift from their intended purpose.

The handbook, which looks set to be published in December, will provide greater clarity around the PCSO role and function, highlight good practice, draw attention to any known pitfalls whilst continuing to allow police chief officers and police and crime commissioners local flexibility to deploy staff to best address neighbourhood problems.

Brian Davies, from the College of Policing, said: "PSCOs presence in communities means they are often best placed to engage with those who conduct, and are affected by, anti-social behaviour and disorder.

"As the police service continues to evolve and innovate to deliver a high quality service against financial constraints and reduced staff, there is a need more than ever to ensure the wider police service can meet the needs of communities."

The wider-three year Local Policing Programme will examine:

  • options for resourcing local policing
  • the emerging practice around predictive policing to support officers in preventing crime
  • the emerging effective practice around the use of technology within local policing.

This article appears in the September 2014 edition of our newsletter - why not subscribe?

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