February 3, 2023 7.00 pm This story is over 14 months old

Police chiefs defend PCSO cut as force tax rise approved

Precept to rise by 5.41%

Police chiefs have been defending cuts to Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) numbers in the county as a 5.41% increase in the force’s share of its council tax precept was approved.

Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel on Friday questioned Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones and Chief Constable Chris Haward on proposed changes to the workforce which will see the number of PCSOs in the county from 91 to 50.

Instead the money from the lost officers will be used to fund staff elsewhere in the force, including nine new safeguarding police staff tackling domestic violence, 12 detectives working on vulnerable children and adults, 15 call takers and five professional standards staff.

Mr Jones told councillors; “The challenges are, that while providing the largest budget we’ve ever seen for Lincolnshire Police, the force are not immune to the same challenges that every one of our households and every resident is facing whether that’s increasing fuel costs, heating costs or other pressures.”

Mr Haward also defended the reduced visibility of officers on the beat and rebuked the “myth” that PCSOs cost less than normal Police Constables.

“The vast majority of our police officer uplift has gone into frontline uniformed services focused on the areas where there is greatest demand and where we have the need.

“The PCSO decision is a really hard decision, it’s not one I would have taken had l been able to do something different.

“What we’ve got to do now is work through what that means in terms of our future operating model, how our neighbourhood teams are realigned and re commissioned while maintaining all of our other protective services across the country to keep people safe.”

He said this included gaps in current provision around safeguarding, tackling vulnerability and tackling online paedophilia and the serious harm happening to children.

Where PCSOs will disappear from is not yet known, Mr Haward told the panel, as the full model had not yet been confirmed.

He said officers had been told of the decision early to allow them to apply for new roles in the next round of recruitment.

Mr Jones’ proposals will see tax rise by £14.94 – a 5.41% increase. He is also proposing an indicative rise of £9.99 next year.

The proposed increase is expected to raise around £3.6 million more funding this year than in 2022/23.

A funding gap of £10 million is expected over the next few years, and the force needs to make recurrent savings of £3 million per year by 2025/26.

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