Page last updated at 07:20 GMT, Thursday, 18 February 2010

PCSOs taken off rounds in north Wales to staff stations

Police lamp
There are fears the PCSOs don't have enough training to deal with desk cover

Police community support officers (PCSO) are taken off the beat to staff the front counters of police stations in Gwynedd and Anglesey, a union says.

It said PCSOs in Caernarfon, Bangor and Holyhead were replacing staff who were better trained for the task of taking inquiries from the public.

Unison said it was concerned the public was not getting the best service.

North Wales Police said money and staff numbers were limited but it would be giving PCSOs more training.

Both union and the force agree that the front door of the police stations need to be kept open.

But problems of cover arise when regular staff are on holiday or are on sick leave.

In Gwynedd and Anglesey, Unison said PCSOs are being taken off the streets to fill gaps. The union said the civilian staff should be out in the community and they do not always have as much experience behind the counter as uniformed police officers.

If we do have a foreseen or unforeseen gap in the front counter provision, I think it's natural that that can be filled by PCSOs
Acting Chief Supt Mark Jones

It is calling for a reorganisation of staffing to stop this happening.

Anne Roberts, secretary of Unison's North Wales Police branch, said PCSOs were being used to 'plug the gap' left by staff being on leave or sick.

She said: "Certainly, we could work a lot cleverer than we are doing with the way we look at the front desks."

Police stations

North Wales Police said it had tried to put as much money as possible into putting staff out on the beat but it meant there were fewer people in the offices to cover front desk duties.

Acting Ch Supt Mark Jones said he had to balance the force's undertakings to keep police stations open while putting PCSOs on the beat.

He said: "They are taken [on] to be visible, [to] engage their communities, to give reassurance and, clearly, make contact with victims of crime and witnesses.

"Ideally I would like them out in the community. However, I have given an undertaking that I will keep the police stations open and if we do have a foreseen or unforeseen gap in the front counter provision, I think it's natural that that can be filled by PCSOs.

"I think it's the best of both worlds really. They are largely out, but when the need is there, they maintain what the public are telling me they want, open police stations."



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