Grantham Journal letter: Concerned PCSOs given new powers

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As a recently retired senior police officer of 32 years’ service, I read with concern (Journal, March 13) that the Chief Constable of Lincolnshire has granted new powers to the PCSOs.

I recall that when these people started work under the previous Labour administration there was concern that this was the thin end of the wedge as far as future policing was concerned, and so it has now been proved.

As Coun Ray Wootten stated in the Journal, “. . . Their original role was one of being the eyes and ears of the community . . .”.

The PCSOs were not allowed to drive a marked police car, take crime reports, or investigate crime, but little by little this has been allowed to happen by the back door.

The PCSO does not receive the same calibre of training as regular officers, but they are being given more and more powers and I firmly believe that in years to come, the PCSO will be dealing with minor accidents, enforcing minor traffic offences, first on scene for minor crime, the list is endless.

The public have already been warned that whoever wins power in May, there will be further cuts to the police budget, and the easy option is to give more powers to these officers. People like Neil Rhodes have no choice but to sing the praises of the PCSO; he and other serving senior officers can’t express their true views as their political masters would not approve. We have seen this creeping of additional responsibility on the cheap in other areas of public service, for example, teaching assistants in schools, and health care support workers in the NHS.

Before I close, the Chief Constable does not clarify if this extra power is also being granted to the Police Commissioners’ Voluntary PCSOs, if so then that would be interesting as they get even less training than their regular counterparts.

When I look back over my career, never could I have imagined that a national police service which was valued in the same vein as the NHS and armed services could be taken apart piece by piece and left with a shell of its former self.

I am reminded of that famous saying from Hosea 8:7 – “They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind.”

Alex Rolt

Durham Close, Grantham