By Lotte Pegler
This week saw the launch of named police community support officers throughout the Sussex Police area.
Every PCSO will be given responsibility for a defined geographic area and every community in Sussex will have at least one named PCSO.
Bognor Regis Town Council’s clerk, Glenna Frost, read a report from Inspector Steve Turner at Monday’s meeting which said six PCSOs would be based in Bognor Regis East and West and Aldwick.
Cllr Adam Cunard (I, Hatherleigh) said he hoped some of the new officers’ role would be to investigate town centre crime.
“We have had a large number of crimes in the Sudley Road area. Part of the problem is that it is pitch black at night. It’s very unsafe once those street lights go off,” he said.
His call for the town council to provide help will be discussed at a future meeting of its planning and licensing committee.
These posts will be recruited throughout the year, with 18 PCSOs having already been introduced in July, and 36 in September.
Over two intakes in January and March next year, another 72 PCSOs will be trained under the PCSO apprenticeship scheme.
This investment has been made possible due to the precept increase on residents’ council tax, proposed by Sussex police and crime commissioner, Katy Bourne, to include an extra 100 PCSOs by March, 2020.
At a public meeting in Bersted on October 14, she said: “Up until their role changed recently, PCSOs couldn’t even take the name and address of somebody. Now they can because the model changed and gave them more powers. Now they can do basic investigations and knock on doors and gather intelligence. The model changed three years ago for the better.
“We’re trying to capture the best of everything. Our apprenticeship takes 15 weeks of training so when they get out they can hit the ground running.”
In a statement she said: “My focus groups and conversations with local people clearly showed the public wanted PCSOs back in their communities, forming that essential and reassuring link with police.
“Neighbourhood policing needed modernising five years ago and that included giving PCSOs the necessary skills to help support police officers and investigations.
“Since then, Sussex Police have transformed the role with more knowledge, skills and powers, but at the same time keeping the best of the old model where PCSOs were known by their local communities.
“A huge welcome to our 100 extra PCSOs, as they start to enter Sussex communities. I look forward to visiting them in their designated areas and seeing the positive impact that they make to residents and local businesses.” The 100 new posts will be allocated according to demand.
Sussex Police hope to achieve the target of 296 PCSOs by March, 2020, though the last cohort will be in training and not deployable until the end of next summer.
There will also be six new rural PCSOs who will provide specialist support to rural communities.