Government should step in to protect community policing in Cambridgeshire

The government must step in to provide urgent funding in Cambridgeshire to prevent serious damage to local policing, says UNISON today.

The union has written to police minister Kit Malthouse to call for action to stop the number of police community support officers (PCSOs) in the county being halved from 80 to 40, under plans announced by Cambridgeshire’s Chief Constable.

The whole of the county’s community safety team of seven people is under threat along with the closure of all but two enquiry offices, leaving rural communities without any physical point of contact with the police and putting six staff out of work.

The threatened staff are “integral to neighbourhood policing, a service the government has promised to protect since 2010”, says the letter.

It points out the extra 20,000 police officers promised by the Prime Minister will not be effective if the team behind them is cut. Cambridgeshire has already dropped significantly from a high of 210 PCSOs in 2010.

The letter says: “Policing is a team effort, as you understand well, and those 20,000 extra officers won’t be effective if the team working with them continues to be cut.”

The government has recently given local authorities £30m to recruit Covid marshals, which UNISON argues “could have been much better spent saving PCSOs … who are uniquely well placed to help enforce Covid restrictions”.

Read the letter

With the comprehensive spending review due next week, UNISON urges Kit Malthouse and the home secretary to ensure proper funding for Cambridgeshire to retain its local policing teams.

UNISON national police and justice officer Ben Priestley said: “These cuts threaten the jobs of people who actually go out into communities, schools, youth clubs and local businesses to build trust with the police force.

“It’s those local communities – and especially Cambridgeshire’s most vulnerable residents – that will suffer if the jobs go.

“Unless the government uses this comprehensive spending review to adequately fund our local services, the outlook looks bleak for Cambridgeshire’s policing.”

UNISON warned in October about the threat that tightening budgets posed to local policing. The union’s submission to the comprehensive spending review on police funding can be viewed here.

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