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Fears for police support officers in Bromley as axe looms

PUBLISHED: 14:04 30 September 2010

PCSO Paul Onslow

PCSO Paul Onslow

Archant

Community support officers on patrol in the borough have defended their role as fears mount over their future in the Metropolitan Police.

The reaction comes as the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Denis O’Connor, said this week that any cuts to police and community officers numbers will dramatically increase anti-social behaviour on our streets.

Mayor Boris Johnson’s budget, announced earlier this year, said that 455 regular police officers would be cut by 2012, but that PCSO numbers will remain the same and the number of (unpaid) Special Constables will go up by 2,690.

However the Met has warned that it is likely to face further funding cuts under a major Government spending review on October 20, sparking fears that some of the 4,520 Police Community Support Officers, or PCSOs, in London may face the chop, severing a vital link between local communities and the police force.

When your Times went on the beat in Bromley with PCSO Paul Onslow, he demonstrated the importance of his role with his “customers” and with a close knit network of police officers, security guards and town traders.

Mr Onslow, 26, is passionate about his role in the community in Bromley. He said: “I see that I have a massive role in the area, as the public face of the police, and no one can say that we never have anything to get our teeth into.

“What I do is really local. Within my ward I have a microbeat that I walk, and I know many of the people I meet on it.

“Before PCSOs were brought in the police didn’t have a link to community, and although it has been a slow process, safer neighbourhood teams now provide a strength to community groups.”

He added: “It would be a real loss to the community if we were to go.”

Paul Onslow works 42 hours a week in 8-hour shifts and has been in his role in Bromley and Hillingdon, West London, for almost four years, now earning £28,000 per year.

He said that one of the biggest problems in the town centre, after shoplifting, is anti-social behaviour.

“It is often kids being a nuisance, or it could be a problem family like the one we are dealing with at the moment. I think PCSOs and ward security are more approachable than police officers, so we find out more about what’s going on.”

He added: “Our role is very clear, and that is to reduce crime, the fear of crime and antisocial behaviour.

In a statement Ken Livingstone, Labour candidate for the 2012 mayoral election, said: “I believe there should not be cuts to London’s police and the safer neighbourhood teams.

“Londoners in every neighbourhood are entitled to a local police team and any reductions would adversely hit outer London.”

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