Saturday, 11 October 2014

Where Have All the PCSOs Gone?

A rare sight in Hedge End
Hedge End Town Council is getting worried. For many years the council has made a contribution towards the funding of PCSOs. That is £14,000 of Hedge End taxpayers' money in the current financial year.

In return the police should deploy two PCSOs in Hedge End and agree areas for them to patrol with the council. But that has not been happening.

When did you last see a PCSO in Hedge End?

Things came to a head in July when no PCSOs were available to attend an incident of anti-social behaviour at Hedge End's much loved children's paddling pool. Recently co-opted Lib Dem councillor Nathan Khan was disappointed to learn that two PCSOs had been allowed to take leave on the same day. As a result of Nathan's persistence, the current inspector at Hedge End police station came along to the September council meeting.

As is recorded in the minutes, members were not convinced that the public is getting value for money at the moment. Coalition cuts to police funding from central government have led to the front desk at Hedge End police station being closed to the public. Now it looks like our PCSOs are being used to plug gaps in police resource elsewhere. They are certainly not visible in the Hedge End community at the moment.

The debate continued at the October meeting of the Finance and Administration committee. The question was raised whether the Town Council should continue to fund PCSOs if they were not being deployed in Hedge End. The answer to that is clearly "no". The Town Council can only spend Hedge End taxpayers' money to the benefit of Hedge End.

Although it is not in the minutes, we were told at the meeting that West End and Botley parish councils have exactly the same concerns (and they make financial contributions to PCSOs too). If that is true where on earth are the police sending all our PCSOs?

Do you think Hedge End should be subsidising gaps in the police budget elsewhere in Hampshire? Let me know either by commenting here or by email to