PCSOs Celebrate Six Years On The Beat
IT is six years since police community support officers (PCSOs) were introduced in Stevenage and they have become a tremendous asset to Herts Police. Herts Police deployed its first 14 PCSOs in March 2003, split between Stevenage and Watford. Now the fo
IT is six years since police community support officers (PCSOs) were introduced in Stevenage and they have become "a tremendous asset" to Herts Police.
Herts Police deployed its first 14 PCSOs in March 2003, split between Stevenage and Watford.
Now the force has a total of 261 PCSOs, deployed to all wards across the county and integrated into safer neighbourhood teams, including 38 as youth and school officers.
Each ward in Stevenage has two dedicated PCSOs, and an additional four patrol the town centre.
PCSOs, who undertake a five-week training course followed by a mentoring period of between four to eight weeks at their respective station, spend at least 80 per cent of their time outside the police station in their communities.
Chris Watson has been a PCSO since February 2007 and watches over Stevenage town centre.
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Asked what he loves about his job, he said: "Every day is different. I could be walking around town and all of a sudden something will come in and I'm here so I can go round the corner and deal with it. It's satisfying - catching people."
He said shoplifting and purse dipping are prevalent in the area, with particular problem spots for purse dipping including busy shops such as the Card Factory, Poundland and QD Stores.
PCSO Watson said he and colleagues also do a lot to tackle anti-social behaviour and "seize an awful lot of alcohol".
PCSOs have the power to confiscate alcohol and tobacco, issue fixed penalty notices, and demand the name and address of someone acting in an anti-social manner. They also have the power of entry to save life or prevent damage.
Hertfordshire PCSOs were directly involved in solving 268 crimes between April 2007 and March 2008 - one of the highest rates in the country.
Chief Constable Frank Whiteley said: "PCSOs have become a tremendous asset to our force.
"With their high visibility patrols in all of our communities, PCSOs have provided reassurance and have made an impact on local crime and disorder.
"They are a fully integrated part of our safer neighbourhood teams and a very important part of the policing service Hertfordshire Constabulary provides."
To contact your local PCSO, visit www.herts.police.uk and click on the 'Safer Neighbourhoods' symbol.