In previous years, the Royal Borough has supported the police with additional PCSOs and there are currently 58 paid for by the Council. As part of a wide ranging package of measures, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has frozen PCSO recruitment. With PCSOs leaving the service through natural wastage or becoming constables, the number available across London and to Kensington and Chelsea has been declining.
At the same time the MPS has, for the first time, extended to Kensington and Chelsea a scheme enabling councils to buy police officers who have a more extensive range of powers than PCSOs.
The real cost of a police constable is £65,000 a year but the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) is currently offering a buy one get one free. In other words, it will cost £32,500 a year to acquire the services of a constable, which is roughly equivalent to the price of buying a PCSO.
With PCSO numbers in decline, the Council believes it can achieve a bigger impact on crime and fear of crime by reinvesting in police constables who have a much greater range of powers than PCSOs.
“Financially speaking these are difficult times, but, as a Conservative Council, we are committed to investing in security for our residents and, with this switch from PCSOs to PCs, achieving a higher return on our money,” said Cllr Joanna Gardner, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, IT and Corporate Services. “The new team will be able to respond to some of those local issues which aren’t usually a priority for police, but do concern our residents and affect their lives.
“These officers will operate as part of a Council tasked team on problems which are important to our residents and businesses alike. As they have a full range of powers, including arrest, they will be able to operate across a much broader range of policing challenges.
“All the evidence says that our investment in PCSOs has been a success, particularly when it comes to providing a visible policing presence, but PCSO numbers are going into decline and we now have an opportunity to reinvest in full police officers and a different way of working.”
The first members of the New Kensington and Chelsea Community Policing Team will be on the streets of Kensington and Chelsea by late summer 2014.