Hertfordshire Constabulary and UNISON have held a joint celebration for community support officers to mark 20 years of the role.
Hertfordshire welcomed its first PCSOs in 2003, when 10 officers joined the beat in Watford and another four hit the streets of Stevenage. More joined later that year.
To mark the occasion Chief Constable Charlie Hall hosted a celebration ceremony with local dignitaries and PCSOs from across the force, including several who had been in post since 2003.
UNISON Herts Police Staff branch chair Steph Raddings said: “It is really important that we celebrate the success of our PCSOs as well as recognise the importance of the role that they do.
“In Hertfordshire we have one of the highest number of PCSOs in the home counties, something we are really proud of.
“We are grateful that our chief constable and police and crime commissioner recognise the importance of the role — so much so that we now have PCSO supervisor roles providing a career pathway for our police staff within Herts.
And local policing command Superintendent Ken Townsend added: “I was both delighted and privileged to attend this ceremony.
“The work of our PCSOs so often goes unnoticed, yet it is that day-to-day interaction with our communities across Hertfordshire that really does make a difference.
“The role of a PCSO within Hertfordshire has gone from strength to strength and is true testament to the dedication and commitment shown on a daily basis by my colleagues.”
PCSOs were launched in England and Wales in 2002 under the Police Reform Act, with the first officers starting in the Met.
The new officers were tasked with being a visual presence on the streets, tackling anti-social behaviour, nuisance and quality of life issues, they aimed to provide reassurance to the public.
While their success is celebrated in Hertfordshire, other forces have not been so supportive and PCSO numbers in England have been cut by 45% since 2010, down from 16,918 to 9,284.