Norfolk Police has today announced they are the first police force within the United Kingdom to scrap the role of PCSO.
Following one of the most extensive reviews within the history of Norfolk Police 150 police staff will be impacted.
As of a review which was launched in 2015 called ‘Norfolk 2020’ which looked as ways to develop the best way that the constabulary could deliver effective and efficient policing against unprecedented increases in complex crimes such as adult and child abuse, sexual offences and cyber-crime, while achieving £10m of savings before 2020.
In Conclusion of the report, it has now been announced that there was a need for investment in detective resources and creating facilities to match the increaase demand within the safeguarding and investigations command.
The complete removal of Police Community Support Officers impacting 150 staff resulting in a reduction in the neighbourhood resources.
Increasing the number of Frontline police officers by 81 and creating a pro-active policing model.
Finally 7 public enquiry offices front counter services along with the closure of 7 police stations across Norfolk.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: “These are radical plans which come at a critical time when the police service is facing unparalleled growth in complex crime together with reduced policing budgets.
“I’ve always been clear that meeting this challenge would be a turning point for the police service and that we would have to change the way we work in order to meet rising demand.
“The plans announced today, I believe, will deliver the most responsive police service for Norfolk, meeting the needs of our communities while protecting the most vulnerable people in our society.
“We must also ensure that the constabulary continues to deliver against the Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan and national policing demands.
“This has been the most extensive review in the force’s history. Adapting our existing structure was not an option which has resulted in plans that include the removal of the PCSO role within neighbourhood policing, reduction of Public Enquiry Offices and police station closures.
“These are difficult decisions and I’m acutely aware of the impact this will have on individuals directly affected and the communities they serve. Change on this scale is challenging but my priority as ever is to make sure we continue to deliver a responsive, relevant and viable police service for the people of Norfolk.”
Investment in detective resources and facilities to match increase and demand (Safeguarding and Investigations Command)
Norfolk has seen unprecedented increases in complex crimes. These crimes are of a serious nature; rape, sexual offences, adult and child abuse, indecent images, drugs and serious violence as well as cyber-crime.
The force has already invested heavily in the Safeguarding and Investigations Command in a bid to meet demand and the 2020 proposed changes will see officers and staff increased in this area by 31 FTE (9 Officers and 22 Staff)
To further improve the way these crimes are investigated, Norfolk’s new policing model will see two new investigation centres built in the east and west of the county. The new centres, based in Broadland Gate and Swaffham area, are due to be opened during 2019, and will have the necessary equipment and facilities to investigate these crimes more efficiently and effectively.
Centralising detective resources in two key locations will enhance the force’s ability to respond to increasing demand, ensuring complex enquiries sit with the right staff and therefore free-up frontline officers to focus on local policing.
The new buildings will also provide a more efficient and cost-effective solution in comparison to maintaining some of the force’s current estates.
Reduction in neighbourhood resources with removal of PCSO role
PCSOs have given outstanding service to communities in Norfolk since the role was introduced in 2002.
The force has reviewed everything that frontline officers and PCSOs can deliver, including their powers, duties, entitlements and the average annual cost of each, which is no longer significantly different.
PCSOs are not permitted to arrest, process or interview prisoners. The role also has limitations in respect of shift cover, use of police cars for pursuit or deployment to situations where there is likely to be a confrontation.
Therefore, the force plans to remove all 150 PCSO roles, with formal staff consultation beginning today (Thursday 19 October).
Increase in police officers and pro-active policing
The removal of PCSOs contributes to £1.6m in savings (equivalent to 43 full-time PCSOs) and means the force can increase frontline resources equating to 97 positions supporting frontline policing. These will be a mixture of officers (81) and staff (16).
These officers and staff would be deployed to neighbourhood and pro-active teams, enhancing the force’s ability to react to demand and offer pro-active policing.
Public Enquiry Office (front counter services) and police station closures
Changes are planned to the force’s estates, including a reduction in Public Enquiry Offices (PEOs).
During the review, assessments were carried out at all stations which offer front counter services into how frequently they were used by the public.
The proposal is to close seven out of the force’s ten PEOs. Stations affected are Dereham, Thetford, Cromer, Downham Market, Fakenham, Hunstanton and North Walsham. These stations will remain open as an operational base.
PEOs in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn will remain open. However, Bethel Street will be closed on Sundays to reflect the low usage highlighted in the review.
The proposals also include police station closures at Acle, Coltishall (storage), Caister, Bowthorpe, Tuckswood (specials), Europa Way (storage) and North Lynn.
Officers and staff currently based at police stations in Attleborough, Holt and Reepham will be relocated to share premises with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service.
Staff currently based at Sprowston and Swaffham will be relocated into the new investigation centres.
In the future, the force will also look to renovate or locally relocate Gorleston and Hurricane Way.