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7 August 2013, 17:52
Cambridgeshire Police say they 'cannot rule out' cutting the number of PCSOs following a review.
The force has started a public review of the role of Police Community Support Officers, as the organisation continues to face 'unprecedented financial pressures'.
Cambridgeshire Police currently spends around £5 million on 168 PCSOs across the county every year.
The force is asking for the public's opinion on the role of PCSOs, who can issue fixed penalty notices, confiscate drugs, direct traffic and pedestrians, clear abandoned vehicles and go inside property to help prevent damage and save lives.
The public can give comments via the Cambridgeshire Police website.
A statement from the force reads: "The survey questions include "Tell us about any benefits that you believe result from using PCSOs in local policing work." and "Do you have a specific positive experience you would like to share involving the work of a PCSO in your area?"
This is part of Cambridgeshire Constabulary's wide-ranging review of the role of the PCSO.
The purpose of the review is to understand how PCSOs can best serve the needs of the public and the organisation in the future.
The project will be looking to answer questions including: what is the purpose of PCSOs? Where and when should they be deployed and how can we measure their success?
PCSOs themselves will have a great deal of input in the project and information will also be sought from the public and partner agencies.
The review is not a cost-cutting exercise, however the force is facing unprecedented financial pressures.
We therefore have to be sure that we have the right resources, in the right places doing the right jobs.
This survey is the public's opportunity to help Cambridgeshire Constabulary understand the impact of PCSOs in the county and to influence the shape of neighbourhood policing in the future."
Unison branch manager and PCSO in Cambridge Chris Blewett said: "Police Community Support Officers are vital to policing in Cambridgeshire.
We are the people who walk around a beat area.
We are the people that members of public see in the street.
We do make a difference, and I'd like to think that we are here to say."