Police Community Support Officers – at the heart of our communities
Main article content
They are the familiar faces dressed in the black and blue uniform, and the reassuring visible presence of the Police in communities right across Wales since 2003. This week we’ll be introducing you to some of them, and giving an insight into the various work they undertake at the heart of our communities to make them safer and better places to live, work and visit.
They defuse the fear of crime, keep people safe from harm and increase community trust and confidence by working with the local community to tackle issues of local concern.
WATCH: South Wales Police PCSOs Magdalena Kozubska & Paulina Karkocha talk about the pride they have in the work they do. Please note this video was recorded pre Covid-19.
PCSOs are crucial to the success of our approach to neighbourhood policing and are a vital link between local communities and police. It is a career that plays a pivotal role in and can really make a difference in those communities – and to the most vulnerable.
This has been evident in the important part they’ve played during the Coronavirus health crisis. They have provided constant positive engagement with communities, using problem orientated policing plans to address issues and assist with controlling the stay at home/ non-essential travel phases of the pandemic.
Community concerns have also been addressed by carrying out targeted joint patrols with partner agencies. The Welsh forces also provided PCSOs with the enhanced powers to enforce regulations and issue fixed penalty notices in exceptional circumstances.
It is different to being a warranted Police Officer, as they do not have the power of arrest, but they can detain people where necessary, and have designated powers surrounding anti-social behaviour, tobacco and alcohol, and fixed penalty notices for example. The role supports police officers in a wide range of scenarios and they have taken on a number of enhanced, specialist roles in forces such as problem solving and cybercrime.
The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, said:
“The Welsh Government has provided funding for Police Community Support Officers across Wales since 2011, and in the recent budget we confirmed our commitment for 2021-22. “PCSOs provide a visible police presence at a local level, reassuring the public, understanding local needs, bridging the gap between communities and police forces, and helping to build a safer, more inclusive Wales. “They have made a huge difference right across Wales throughout the Covid-19 pandemic response by helping to tackle local concerns and supporting the most vulnerable people in our communities. I want to applaud and celebrate the work they have done.”
Commissioner Alun Michael, Wales Lead for Police & Crime Commissioners on PCSOs, added:
“The PCSO role is enormously valued by communities in every part of Wales and is vital in the way the four police forces in Wales have maintained neighbourhood policing through a period when Austerity led to some Forces in England stepping away from a part of policing that we regard as essential. "It’s a valued role in its own right – whereas warranted police officers often have to be deployed to meet challenges, events and incidents that are often immediate and significant the whole point of PCSOs is to be there in the community all the time – and it works. Their role is threefold: communication by speaking to our communities and listening to what the public say, problem solving by working through the everyday issues that worry the community, and empowering the community by helping local people to improve the quality of life locally. "Support from Welsh Government means that we have double the number of PCSOs to Forces in England and that strengthens the whole policing team in their role of helping our communities to be strong, safe and confident. And the individual stories of work done by our PCSOs is truly inspirational – complementing the superb work of our officers and the rest of our police staff in Wales.”
Policing Lead for Community Support Officers across Wales, T/ Chief Constable Claire Parmenter said:
“PCSOs play such a vital role in our communities, I know how valued they are and the fantastic work they do to prevent crime and reassure our communities across Wales. The four Welsh forces are supported by Welsh Government who fund a proportion of the PCSOs across Wales. "This assists in maintaining this important resource at a time when Police forces have many competing funding demands. We really value and respect their work and recognise their dedication and commitment as we all work together to reduce harm and crime in Wales. I’m looking forward to hearing the stories of some of our dedicated and professional PCSOs this week – people may be surprised at the breadth and variety of their work and the significant impact they are having on communities.”
I have been a member of the Port Talbot Neighbourhood Policing Team and worked for South Wales Police for six years but have covered Aberavon for the last three years.
I enjoy working in the Port Talbot and also relish the daily challenges of modern day policing. Port Talbot has such a wide demographic of people and this has broadened my horizons and given me the opportunity to understand the community that I serve.
During my time working for South Wales Police I have become a member of the Representative Workforce programme. This has enabled me to assist potential candidates from the BAME community in accessing our recruitment process. This is an initiative that I am proud to be a part of and have a great passion for.
I have always been ready for a challenge and during my time in Aberavon I have assisted a transgender lady who was suffering from hate crime, particularly from youths in the area. I have provided long term support to the lady and spoke with youths who were identified as being perpetrators of the verbal abuse. I spoke openly with them and explained the courage that it takes to go through such a transition in life and the youths involved approached the lady following this conversation and took it upon themselves to apologise when they have seen her in the community. She was very appreciative of my efforts and still mentions it in conversations to this day.
Specifically in the Aberavon ward, I was fortunate to be a part of a community initiative called “Kidzball”. This aimed to bring together children from the various backgrounds of the Port Talbot area for the purpose of team sports such as cricket, rugby and football. Whilst providing a safe environment for children to play sport together, this also served to provide a very stable bridge between the PCSOs and the youths of the area and led to us identifying issues with a child which was effectively acted upon. I found this a very positive initiative to be a part of and I was able to put my level 1 Football Association of Wales qualification to good use.
However, whilst PCSOs are predominately community and problem solving based, this does not take away from the spontaneous situations that we deal with. Whilst in company with another PCSO we dealt with a male who was trying to commit suicide on a bridge three years ago. I believe that because of our effective communication skills and decisive action, we prevented the person from carrying out the unthinkable. This is one of my proudest moments whilst wearing the uniform and is a reminder that PCSOs are encouraged to be visible within the communities, but when we are routinely patrolling and encounter these situations, we act and we do so with the upmost pride, professionalism and positivity.
Finally, it has been a challenging twelve months, both professionally and personally for many of us within the organisation. We continue to adapt to changes in legislation and are aware of current affairs and the resulting community tensions that can arise, especially as PCSOs. This continuation of adaptation to every new challenge that we face is what is at the heart of understanding the needs of our communities and effectively responding to those needs.
If you are interested in joining South Wales Police as a PCSO click on this link to find out more about the role and the recruitment requirements.