Policing on the Cheap


The Government is to spend £340 million over the next three years setting up dedicated policing teams in every neighbourhood. Tony Blair and Home Secretary Charles Clarke went on the beat with police in south London to launch the scheme.

Their aim is to recruit 24,000 community support officers to support police officers in all English and Welsh neighbourhoods by 2007/08. Local wardens and special constables will also play a role in the teams. Local people will be able to contact their local police team directly to report a problem.

It will be left to individual police forces to define how large or small each "neighbourhood" would be.

The Prime Minister and his Cabinet ministers were mobbed by reporters and camera crews as they visited Clapham High Street in south London. They were introduced to local Community Support Officers (CSOs) as well as members of the Metropolitan Police. During the high profile visit Mr Blair and Mr Clarke were told about the role of CSOs in helping to solve the problems of beggars and vagrancy in the area.

Mr Blair defended the role of CSOs and insisted they were not replacing fully-trained officers.

"What we are talking about is bringing back community policing for today's world," he said. "People love [CSOs] because it is a uniformed presence on the streets. We hope to roll this out right across London, across the country."

The Prime Minister denied it was policing on the cheap, citing the record number of fully warranted police officers currently in employment.

"CSOs are, I think, a great support, in the same way teachers have teaching assistants."

The Government says the scheme will mean local people will know who their local police officers are and how to contact them.
Story here!

So we're going to have 24,000 of these CSOs stopping vagrants (i.e. homeless) from committing all these crimes? I had no idea that they were the guilty parties - I was under the misapprehension they were commited by actual criminals.

Who on earth are they trying to fool? No-one respects CSOs in the same way that 'proper coppers' are respected. Why not simply recruit more Specials and be honest about their intentions? Comparing them to teachers' assistants achieves nothing.

How many times can the word 'local' be used in one cant-ridden statement?

I also note that 2005 is the Year of the Volunteer - what a strange way to show it.
I was a "Special" as a spotty youth, long before discovering the TA. At the time, Specials got a mixed reception from "Regulars" - a bit like the STAB/ARAB situation, most PCs accepted Specials on their merits and were happy to have the better ones alongside them but there were other Specials who were complete Walts and a few of these appearing persuaded me it was time to hand my truncheon back.

I recently met one of my former colleagues who is still serving and now a Deputy Commandant or something and it was amazing how much better training and equipment they get nowadays - but they still don't get paid and they still have funny bar things instead of proper ranks! Also the complexity of what they're required to know/do, especially in a sea-side town on a weekend, is truly impressive.

Just before I left I contributed to a study someone was doing for a degree course, and I suggested that it should be re-organised along the lines of Regular Reserve / TA, i.e. with a pay structure, but of course that would cost money!

I've no idea of the sums, but surely it would be better to put the Specials on a paid footing, rather than paying CSOs to provide the high-visibility aspects of policing, but without the training, equipment or back-up powers to carry on the movement when they spot something happening?


Oh and they don't appear to let them in the Armed Response Teams - mixed views on that!! :lol:
Well, i must admit that we have quite a few of them round my way.

I see the CSO's more than i do actual plods nowadays (despite the fact i am 5 mins walk from the local police station 8O )

When I worked with the police I had many an argument on the subject of Bobbies on the beat.
I maintained that ordinary folk, especially the old, want to see Bobbies walking around checking out their area.
Modern police training is against this and I never won my case.
I still beleive I am right.
After I came to live out here I was asked to show round a visiting family friend who I had never met before.
He turned out to be a former local police Superintendant and we had a few personalities in common. I brought up my old argument and we had a good debate on the subject.
Now as a civvy he admitted much of his old 'Police' attitude had changed and he added one comment
"There are too many small sections in the force each trying to defend it's own position, they are heavy users of manpower and it leaves fewer bobbies for the beat".
They should put the Special Constables on a similar footing to the TA, ie pay them! My sister was a Special in South London and would finish work at 5, be in the Police Station by 7, and get home at 2/3am.

Her reward? Apart from Civic Duty? Her travel claim, which was negligible as she could walk to the Station.

Criminals don't distinguish between Specials or Regulars - just like RA and TA, when in uniform, they see a person in uniform, with the powers of arrest. That's your deterrent on the streets of Britain.

CSO's are policing on the cheap - the CSO can't hold anyone for longer than 30 minutes, doesn't have the same knowledge base as a Police Officer (either Regular or Special) and your average chav knows this.

Will they be the deterrent that the Government are looking for? It's the police presence they're looking for, at a cheaper price.

I think of CSO's as I do Traffic Wardens, and the uniforms are pretty much the same.

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