Concerns over police support cutbacks

A COUNCILLOR says he is concerned that the cutting back of police community support officers' hours could lead to a rise in unruly behaviour.

Police have revealed that PCSOs will not work after 9.45pm under new proposals by Cleveland Police to save money, as reported by the Mail.

Hartlepool's Burn Valley ward councillor Jonathan Brash says the changes could lead to a surge in anti-social behaviour and concern from residents.

The Labour councillor said: "PCSOs and the police in general have done a fantastic job in tackling anti-social behaviour in Burn Valley.

"My concern with the changing of hours would be that this hard work would be undone and that it would cause anxiety for residents.

"This Government said that the cuts would not affect front-line services. But clearly the pressure on Cleveland Police means that this is not the case."

PCSOs currently work up to midnight and at weekends and are paid more for the unsociable hours.

Letters have been sent out to all 54 PCSOs in Hartlepool about changes that would see these late and weekend hours cut back to save Cleveland Police 240,000 a year.

Cleveland Police Assistant Chief Constable Sean White said the issue of anti-social behaviour has been looked at and that a single shift pattern has been set up to make sure PCSOs are still on hand when the bulk of problems happen.

He also said changes have to be made as the force needs to make savings of 15.2m over the next three years.

He said: "Currently PCSOs work on a variety of shifts that start and finish at different times in different districts and the proposal is to move to a single shift system across the force.

"This means that PCSOs will be more visible and available to deal with incidents of anti-social behaviour when they occur."