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What about community policing in Clay Country?
My article in this coming week’s Cornish Guardian will focus on the new Police and Crime Plan and the threat to Police Community Support Officers in areas such as Clay Country.
Initial coverage of the local Police and Crime Plan (2017-2020) was largely positive in last week’s Cornish Guardian.

The editorial stated that the “new policing plan does represent the best way forward,” while an associated article covered how the local constabulary will recruit “100 new uniformed officers, 50 civilian investigators and 30 record-takers.” The Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer was quoted as saying this would “reconnect communities with the force,” while the Police Federation was reported as backing the “overhaul.”

The downside to the Plan from the Police Commissioner Alison Hernandez – which means I cannot support it – is that more than half of the Police Community Support Officers working across the force area will be “phased out” during the next four years.

I was particularly concerned to read the statement that “no decision has yet been taken on which communities are likely to lose a PCSO” but that “large towns and cities are expected to see little change.”

But where does that leave communities which do not happen to be a large town or city?

Last August, I attended a meeting of councillors and community representatives from across the China Clay Area. It took place in St Dennis and the main agenda item was a presentation from the Commissioner’s Strategy and Planning Manager.

One of the key issues raised at the meeting was the importance of PCSOs in our area. There was a strong consensus that the local officers had been very effective in their work and had built strong working relationships with Parish Councils and other bodies.

We expressed our fear that any loss of PCSOs would lead to a devastating reduction in community policing and we sought a guarantee that this should not be allowed to happen.

The Strategy and Planning Manager stated that she was unable to give any guarantees, but then attempted to reassure us by stating that the Commissioner was keen to link policing back to the local community. She also said that she would ask Ms Hernandez to report back to us on this issue.

I have looked at the on-line leaflet which is promoting the Police and Crime Plan. It states that the key priority is “Connecting Communities and Policing” through their “Local Policing Promise.” But I cannot see how this priority can be achieved while there is such uncertainty hanging over areas such as the one I am proud to represent as a councillor.

I have written to Alison Hernandez and asked her to rethink her approach to PCSOs and community policing.
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By Dick Cole. Published on 5th February 2017.

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