A Police Community Support Officer or PCSO is a person who has similar rights to those of a police officer. A PCSO is a person who often works with local communities to combat crime. A PCSO is uniformed person but they do not have the power of arrest. They play a major role in combating crime, acting as a deterrent by patrolling the street and often deal with anti social behavior. The role of the PCSO have grown in popularity in recent years and it is now seen by some as a stepping stone to becoming a police officer.
History of Police Community Support Officer
Police community support officers were introduced by the Police Reform Act 2002 in England and Wales. Acceptance of the proposal for PCSOs in Northern Ireland was rejected by a budget deficit in the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
Police officers cannot, by law, join any trade union, but as non-police officers, the Community Support Officer is an exception. The role of the community officer is not and should not be confused with the role of a special constable. A special constable is a citizen who volunteers to works a police officer for a minimum of 16 hours per month. PCSO’s work full time often on a shift basis in a similar way to police officers.
As a police community support officer you will work alongside the police, patrolling the local area, dealing with minor incidents and offenses. You would provide assistance to the police and a visible presence in the area to reassure the public. Part of the reason behind the introduction of the community officer was to try and restore confidence in the public that something visible was being done to reduce crime.
Duties and work of the Police Community Support Officer
PCSO’s duties would fluctuate depending on the requirements of the local police force and but they most probably include:
-Dealing with public disturbances and anti-social behavior
-Help to direct traffic
-protecting crime scenes
-giving advice on crime avoidance to members of the local community
-writing fixed penalty notices for anti-social behavior
-keeping a suspect in custody until a police officer arrives
-Providing assistance at large public events, such as sports events and public protests.
Sometimes PCSO works by own or in pairs or in small teams, under the direction of the police leader in local area.
PCSOs work 37 hours a week, in a shift system, usually covering the hours between 8am and midnight, including weekends and public holidays. There are opportunities to work part-time and fl exible hours.
They carry radios so that they can communicate with police control rooms and other colleagues. PCSOs spend most of their time out on patrol, usually on foot or possibly also on a bicycle. They work in pairs or small teams, and in liaison with their police officer colleagues.
There are no formal or educational qualifications required to become a community officer and this is why this job has continued to grow in popularity. There is a minimum age restriction requirement that the person applying has to be 16 years of age. However, some police forces will also require that the candidate have experience of working within the community whether it is paid or voluntary, and it may be helpful if the candidate have a driving license.