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Last Updated: Monday, 7 August 2006, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Support officers' stab vest fear
PCSO stab vest
Community officers in other forces in the region do get the vests
The lives of police community support officers (PCSOs) are being put at risk as police chiefs refuse to issue them with stab vests, their union claims.

Unison said some of the PCSOs in the West Midlands, who support full-time officers, were frightened at work as they were not properly protected.

The union said PCSOs in the Warwickshire, Staffordshire and West Mercia forces did get body armour.

West Midlands Police said the PCSO role meant they did not need the vests.

Annette Mansell-Green of Unison said: "Without these vests an officer could end up being killed or seriously injured.

No distinction

"Our members say they are frightened and worried, we think they should be properly protected at work.

"The officers may have a non-confrontational role, but members of the public don't distinguish them from full-time police officers and they confront PCSOs."

There are 305 police community support officers in the West Midlands force area who patrol in uniform.

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said: "The role of PCSOs is to primarily provide reassurance, help prevent offences and reduce the fear of crime.

"They are not deployed to confrontational incidents.

"The number of assaults on PCSOs is extremely low which demonstrates they are working within their remit."

She added that the officers did not have powers of detention.

But their role was being reviewed and all aspects of their work would be considered.


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