Chief constable’s tribute as PCSOs abolished in Norfolk

Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey
Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey

Norfolk’s chief constable has today paid tribute to the PCSOs whose role disappears in the county on Saturday.

Plans announced in October to help save £10 million by 2020, including abolishing PCSOs and closing seven police station counters, come into effect on March 31 and mean 96 redundancies.

Mr Bailey said: “Policing in Norfolk has benefited hugely from PCSOs and I’m extremely proud of the outstanding work they have achieved over the years.

“Today is about thanking publicly all the PCSOs and public enquiry office staff who have served our communities so well and so loyally.”

The removal of PCSOs has allowed the force to increase police officer numbers, with an additional 81 officers and 16 support staff.

In addition, a 5.5 percent rise in council tax set by the Police and Crime Commissioner means a further 17 police officers and six staff will be recruited, bolstering neighbourhood and pro-active teams and the county’s safer schools partnership.

Mr Bailey added: “This has been a difficult process for all involved; I’m acutely aware the impact it has had on staff members but I genuinely believe these plans will deliver the most responsive police service for the people of Norfolk.

“I am also pleased to say that out of the 176 people put at risk of redundancy nearly 80 have been redeployed in the force with 30 now becoming police constables.

“The removal of PCSOs and the closure of seven public enquiry offices mean people’s interaction with police officers and staff will be different.

“However, engagement officers and beat managers will continue to be embedded within our local communities and work in partnership with other agencies to reduce crime and fear and offer reassurance.

“We may have altered our interaction but our commitment remains the same, evidenced by the latest crime survey of England and Wales which sees Norfolk ranked fourth in the country for overall confidence.”

‘Engagement surgeries’ will be held on a regularly across the county ‘providing opportunities for residents to meet their local officers’. They include ones at Thetford on Tuesdays from 12pm to 2pm and Diss on Fridays from 10am to 12pm.

Norfolk Police say initiatives introduced under the 2020 review plans are already producing results.

Operation Moonshot, which uses intelligence innovatively to prevent and deter criminals using Norfolk’s road network. Over two years, there have been 640 arrests, 648 vehicle seizures and tens of thousands of pounds of fines.

Operation Solve, aimed at improving methods used to combat retail crime, in only its second week of operation detected a series of high value alcohol thefts across the county and secured a charge for a woman who was committing fuel thefts at garages.

Mr Bailey explained: “This isn’t ground-breaking technology. But it is making full use of simple tools like email. It is far quicker for retailers to email their CCTV and provide statements over the telephone, than it is for officers to visit the premises.”

Operation Tutelage will start soon, aimed at reducing the number of uninsured drivers.