PCSOs are being used to carry out the duties of warranted police officers and pressed into action to investigate crimes such as assaults and burglaries – resulting in no further action being taken.
A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found that in 17 of the 43 forces in England and Wales,
PCSOs were being used “inappropriately” for response and investigative policing.
In these forces, the staff were being used daily to not only respond to the initial report of a crime but take on the case and, in effect, investigate it.
In addition to being asked to deal with “volume” crime, HMIs found evidence that
PCSOs are being asked to deal with house burglaries and assaults – which should be dealt with by warranted officers.
In an interview with PoliceOracle.com HMI Roger Baker said
PCSOs were being inappropriately used because leaders do not have a basic understanding of their demand and the capability of their staff in terms of ability and their physical output.
He said: “Why are you using untrained staff to go and try and do their best when you have got lots of police officers?
“If you are going to use them then they need additional training in investigations and they need their powers extended.
PCSOs are being used well beyond their powers and their roles – they are being asked to be detectives, but they are not trained or skilled to carry out the role.
“I don’t see that demand is outstripping supply for warranted officers – so why are they not being used?”
The report found that
PCSOs were still being sent out regularly to certain incidents relating to antisocial behaviour and other neighbourhood problems – in keeping with their role, profile and training.
The report recommends that all forces, by the end of December, should not be using PCSOs to respond to incidents and crimes beyond their role profiles, where they have no powers, or for which they have not received appropriate levels of training.
Mr Baker said: “Local policing should include both staff and warranted officers.”
HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor said: “England and Wales has 43 police forces. There are not, and never have been, 43 best ways of doing something.”
Chief Superintendent Irene Curtis, President of the Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales, said that the report makes for uncomfortable reading.
She added: “Forces have made significant efforts to save money and have continued to reduce crime as well as doing their best to protect the frontline.
“But the report indicates that while this has been going on, some of the basic functions of policing appear to be slipping through the cracks in some areas.”
Widely reported, this from Police Oracle