‘Final Nail in the coffin’ for community policing averted

Metropolitan Police Commisioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe drops plans for PCSO axes

Metropolitan Police Commisioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe drops plans for PCSO axes - Credit: Press Association

Plans which could have put the safety of people in Hackney and Islington in jeopardy have been dropped.

A proposal to scrap all 1,000 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) working in London neighbourhoods was rejected by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe at a London Assembly meeting today.

Sir Bernard confirmed to Assembly Members (AM) at City Hall that each ward in London would have at least one dedicated Police Constable and PCSO.

This means that none of Hackney’s or Islington’s PCSOs will be axed.

The announcement comes after last month’s government spending U-turn which meant police funding would be protected.

Police funding across England and Wales was expected to be slashed as part of the government’s austerity programme, leading the Met’s management board to draw up a range of cost saving options.

In September, Jennette Arnold OBE AM warned the cuts would be the “final nail in the coffin for neighbourhood policing”.

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Speaking at the meeting, Mr Hogan-Howe said: “If we have to make savings then we can make them elsewhere, we can be confident of guaranteeing PCSOs will remain on the streets of London.”

The proposal to axe the PSCOs was widely criticised by London Assembly members in September who warned it risked weakening community policing at a time when the increased security threat meant the force needed a greater presence on the streets.

Joanne McCartney AM, Labour’s London Assembly Policing spokeswoman, said scrapping PCSOs would have resulted in the end of neighbourhood policing as we know it.

She added: “PCSOs are the eyes and ears of the police, they play an incredibly important intelligence gathering role and scrapping them entirely would have been an absolute disaster.

“PCSOs have faced months of uncertainty as a result of the Government’s threatened funding cuts.

“I am glad our campaign has helped to prevent these cuts and reassure PCSOs that their role is highly valued.”