RENEWED calls for police community support officers to be restored have been made by Bognor Regis area councillors.
They called for the policing assistants to be brought back on to the streets to patrol their designated areas.
The PCSOs were removed late last year in a reorganisation by Sussex Police to redeploy its staff in keeping with its reduced budget. They have been given new skills but taken away from specific communities.
But county councillor Francis Oppler (LD, Bognor Regis E) said: “The PCSOs were the police’s eyes and ears on the ground. They had a relationship with their residents. I know from personal experience because the PCSO in my area, Julie Jones, was absolutely fantastic.
“It’s a sad loss to the community we no longer have them.
“The good they might do now is outweighed by the fabulous job they did previously.
“I have spoken to many friends and acquaintances across the wider Bognor Regis area and they miss the PCSOs.”
Cllr Lilian Richardson, the chairman of Aldwick Parish Council, said: “When I speak to parishioners, they don’t say they are glad they don’t see PCSOs.
“They say they appreciate when they had them.”
Pagham Parish Council’s chairman Cllr Ray Radmall said the PCSO for Pagham and Aldwick, Bill Prior, spent a lot of time on Pagham Spit where he worked hard to disrupt alleged drug dealing.
But he had evidence that the illegal activity had restarted.
Cllr Pat Dillon (C, Pevensey), of Arun District Council, said: “We do miss our PCSOs locally.”
But he praised the police response within four minutes after he reported a recent incident on 999.
The councillors made their comments at Wednesday’s meeting of the Joint Western Arun Area Committee of county, district and parish councillors.
Inspector Marc Clothier, of Sussex Police, told the committee the PCSOs’ previous role had to alter because of the need to change policing to take account of the current available finances.
“We have to police with the resources that are available. We had a luxury service for a number of years.
“We are in a different place now with a massive reduction in our budget. We have to do things differently and it’s a case of getting used to that.
“People should report any suspected crimes to us.
“We can make decisions and we can make those on what we think is important. An incident may not be as significant as a situation somewhere else,” he said.
Insp Clothier detailed some of the successes which the police had achieved in the Bognor Regis area.
They included disrupting drug dealers and protecting vulnerable people who were at risk from that activity.
Individuals had also been targeted and put into custody as a result of that activity. Partnership working with Arun District Council was also getting results in tackling anti-social behaviour, he said.