October 1, 2018 11.59 am This story is over 35 months old

Could communities pay for PCSOs?

“We will leave no stone unturned”

A Lincolnshire councillor has claimed local communities will have to pay more for services – including local policing – as government grants are cut.

Councillor Stephen Woodliffe, who represents Boston Borough Council, said he believed there was ‘little option’.

During a meeting of the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel on Friday, representatives of the Police and Crime Commissioners office were grilled on police funding.

Councillor Woodliffe asked if PCSOs should be funded by parish councils.

District councils originally paid for PCSOs when they were first introduced, however that was taken over by the county council, who later stopped the £2 million funding due to financial constraints.

Lincolnshire Police PCSOs out on the beat. Photo: Lincolnshire Police

Speaking on behalf of PCC Marc Jones, who was unwell at the time, his chief executive Malcolm Birch said funding PCSOs was a complex issue, and worried about more ‘well-off’ parishes funding officers.

Following the meeting Councillor Woodliffe said: “It’s my view that if the police grant from the government cannot be increased and Lincolnshire faces a situation where there are not enough officers to provide the security people want then people will have to pay for PCSOs, as an example, out of parish funds.

“The parishes themselves would have to fund the police officers who will patrol their communities.”

It follows a meeting of Lincolnshire County Council scrutiny leaders last week in which it was recommended local people could pay to have their street lights switched back on.

Councillor Woodliffe added, that the idea could be extended to include other services.

“I’m afraid there is little option since Government finances are in the precarious state they are, ordinary citizens are going to have to pay more money for the services that they want,” he said.

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones. Photo: Lincolnshire Reporter

Mr Jones said following the meeting that he was looking at whether districts would make a contribution towards the service but recognised they also face ‘financial challenges’.

He added: “I will also engage with Parishes but to be clear the Chief Constable decides where PCSOs and Officers are needed and deployed so the option for wealthier Parishes to get a service that others can’t afford is not one that the Chief or I would find appropriate or acceptable.

“We will leave no stone unturned in our drive to deliver the best possible policing service for the residents of Lincolnshire.”

Chief Constable Bill Skelly said he was ‘keeping an open mind’ on how to maintain PCSO numbers and that offers of financial help were ‘something to be explored’.

While he welcomed the support of local communities he echoed Mr Jones’ comments saying he would: “continue to explore every possibility, although asking local authorities for contributions to help pay for their policing isn’t straightforward”.

“Officers and PCSO’s are constantly deployed to different parts of Lincolnshire depending on where the greatest risks are, so any contributions from authorities would really need to be made to our central budget for policing rather than to a specific area,” he said.

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