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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 September 2007, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
Support officers get pedometers
North Wales police officers on patrol
Figures so far show PCSOs walk up to 12 miles on a shift
Police community support officers (PCSOs) in north Wales have been issued with pedometers to clock up how many miles they walk in a shift.

The scheme involves around 40 PCSOs working across Conwy and Denbighshire.

Police say it will help show residents how much time officers spend patrolling the streets and aid efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

They deny it is a case of "Big Brother" and insist officers' walking records will not be compared.

Figures collated so far show that PCSOs are covering an average of 8- 12 miles during a 10-hour shift.

Acting Ch Insp Phil Hare said: "We noticed a lot of staff members had their own pedometers. They just monitored, for personal fitness, how many miles they were doing.

At a residents' meeting...our inspector was able to say 'hang on, my officers are doing this much mileage'
Karen Bennion, PCSO

"This posed a questioned about how many miles the police community support officers were doing."

A pilot scheme in Colwyn Bay received positive feedback and the scheme had now been rolled out across Conwy and Denbighshire.

Acting Ch Insp Hare said they do not insist PCSOs wear the pedometer but all had been keen to.

"It's for their own fitness and, for us, it's really good to demonstrate to community councils and other neighbourhood groups how much time officers spend on the district," he said.

He added: "We've always wanted to try and capture how much time people spend on reassurance patrols, and this is a good measure of that."

One officer bought her own pedometer 'out of curiosity'

It is not a "big brother" scheme, he said, adding: "If it were...the staff would be more than slightly suspicious but they like it and we like it because it does give useful information on mileage."

PCSOs were not obliged to record the mileage they clocked up, he said, and individuals would not be measured against one another.

Some, however, had kept a tally as they saw it as a personal challenge.

Everyone in the division was determined to "reduce the carbon footprint", he said.

"Making use of our legs is one of the best things we can do. For health and fitness of staff and being visible and available.

'Health benefits'

Karen Bennion, 45, bought her own pedometer when she became a PCSO in 2004 "out of curiosity".

She has covered up to 12.5 miles in a shift and said wearing a pedometer brings health and other benefits.

Ms Bennion, who is based in Colwyn Bay, said: "A month ago at a residents' meeting, one of the residents said 'we never see police officers'. Our inspector was able to say 'hang on, my officers are doing this much mileage'."

Earlier this month, North Wales Police chief constable Richard Brunstrom, announced his force would be the first in Britain to introduce compulsory annual fitness tests.

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