Cambridgeshire police cuts ‘will make it harder to access justice’, says UNISON

Cambridgeshire Constabulary announced plans today to halve police community support officer (PCSO) numbers, disband the community safety team – which provides crime prevention advice to the public and local businesses – and close enquiry offices.

UNISON Eastern regional organiser Jeff Keighley said: “It’s no good recruiting more police officers only to have to slash the numbers of staff doing vital work for the force in support of officers on the beat.

“A decade of austerity has already cut Cambridgeshire’s police force to the bone, any more will inevitably result in a worse service to the public.

“Fewer PCSOs and enquiry officers will make it harder for members of the public — particularly the elderly and vulnerable — to access the police when they need them.

“PCSOs have proven themselves to be a vital part of British policing, acting as its eyes and ears in the community.

“They visit schools and make neighbourhoods safer, tackling the anti-social behaviour that blights lives but which police officers often don’t have time to deal with.

“At a time when a well-resourced network of PCSOs should be helping people comply with ever-changing Covid-19 regulations, cutting numbers further simply makes no sense.”

According to the force, the planned changes will see:

  • The reduction of PCSOs from 80 to 40, but with a single role profile and improved alignment to their team and they will cover all 28 neighbourhoods in the county to deal with the issues that matter most to the local community,
  • The removal of the community safety team, resulting in the reduction of six community safety officer posts across the force,
  • The delivery public enquiry offices providing a seven day a week provision at Thorpe Wood and Parkside Police Stations,
  • The closure of nine enquiry offices (NOT the police stations), with the implementation of a team of police officers to provide people in each local authority area with an appointment-based service to allow members of the public to make an appointment to speak to an officer. This will result in a reduction of enquiry officers from 17 to 11,
  • The remodelling of the citizens in policing team, including the removal of the Head of Citizens in Policing and Special Constabulary post (which is currently vacant),
  • In the north and south, the development of Area Command Cells and Neighbourhood Support Teams to deliver consistent and efficient neighbourhood policing across the whole force, and Continuous Professional Development Units (CPDU), to support officers with ongoing operational competence and training, now and into the future with the introduction of PEQF (Policing Education Qualifications Framework) as an entry route into policing.