Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) in Warwickshire and West Mercia will have new powers and will be working longer hours from the end of the month.
From September 30, a total of 333 PCSOs will be employed by Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police.
They will form a key part of safer neighbourhood teams, working alongside police officers and Specials. 30 of the PCSOs will be based specifically within secondary schools as part of the forces’ Safer Schools Programme.
There are currently 20 standard powers for PCSOs and 21 discretionary powers that can be designated by a chief constable. There are also a number of fixed penalty notices for disorder that can be issued by a PCSO.
Following feedback from communities, as well as consultation with PCSOs themselves, the chief constables have granted ten additional powers to PCSOs. These range from the power to detain (without the use of force), the power to search for drugs, powers relating to truancy and to deal with traffic obstruction offences.
PCSOs have also been granted the powers to issue fixed penalty notices for a range of alcohol related offences.
As part of the changes, the hours a PCSO can work are also being extended - they can now be deployed until midnight, when there is an operational requirement.
All PCSOs have completed training to prepare them to use their new powers.
Gareth Morgan, Assistant Chief Constable and Lead for Local Policing at Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police said:
“PCSOs are firmly established both within the police service and communities and are highly valued by both forces as a visible local presence within our safer neighbourhood teams.
“By extending their powers and hours, we are formally recognising that PCSOs can and want to play a greater role in protecting our communities from harm.
“However, while extending the powers available, I have been very conscious of the need to maintain a clear distinction between the role of a PCSO and a police officer and every safer neighbourhood team will also have a police officer.”
Ron Ball, Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire, said: “Two things have become abundantly clear to me concerning PCSOs since my election.
“The first is that they are both extremely effective and popular in the communities that they serve. The second is that with a few additional powers they could be even more effective.
“They are not police officers and we don’t want them to be seen as such, but there has been a sense of frustration both from the public and from PCSOs themselves that they could do an even better job with a small increase in powers. I totally support the decision taken by both chief constables to provide those powers”.
Bill Longmore, West Mercia’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Local policing is an important way of maintaining or increasing public reassurance. Therefore, it is vital that our frontline officers have the right powers to do their job effectively and provide the best possible service to our communities.
“It has been obvious from the start that our PCSOs wanted more powers to allow them to do this and, when brought to the Chief Constable’s attention, he agreed to consider it and subsequently introduce it.”