POLICE community support officers will not be taking over all frontline duties but will be given increased powers, force chiefs have said.
South Yorkshire Police has rubbished suggestions that PCSOs would replace beat bobbies after plans to ‘free up’ PCs were revealed in Chief Constable David Crompton’s neighbourhood policing review.
The move means PCSOs - dubbed plastic police officers because they have no power of arrest - would carry out more patrols allowing colleagues to be used on task forces instead to tackle issues such as metal thefts and drug busts.
At a meeting of the South Yorkshire Police Authority, acting chief constable Andy Holt said support officers would not be replacing colleagues on the front line.
Instead they would have more defined roles as the face of community policing, and as the first point of contact with the public and have extended working hours from 10pm to midnight.
He said: “We are not removing bobbies from the beat. PCSOS are an essential part of the neighbourhood policing landscape. But when you dial 999 you will be dealing with response officers who have the powers to deal with serious crimes.”
He added that the review would not see the role of PCSOs change much from their current duties, but would mean they had more defined roles such as meeting the public and working with schools.
Mr Crompton said in a statement: “The discussion in relation to PCSO powers and duties would not result in a removal of police constables from frontline policing. Police officers will remain visible in the community and continue to work in the same areas that they do now.
“PCSOs will continue their valuable role working alongside police officers and special constables in safer neighbourhood teams working in communities as they always have done.
“Our proposal is that we enhance their powers so that they can deal with more incidents that don’t require a police constable with the powers of arrest.”
Charles Perryman, chairman of South Yorkshire Police Authority, said PCSOs would work alongside beat bobbies.
To see more about the plans visit www.southyorks.gov.uk