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Page last updated at 07:41 GMT, Friday, 13 April 2012 08:41 UK

'PCSOs not a replacement for officers'

Radical changes are being discussed today which could affect the historic role of the police officer as South Yorkshire Police says it wants to make community support officers, rather than constables, the first point of contact for the public.

Neil Bowles, chair of South Yorkshire Police Federation, told the Today programme's Evan Davis that Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) are not a replacement for police officers.

PSCOs are a cheaper resource than officers and have less training.

"Our concern is that they are not as accountable as police officers to the law or to the community," he said.

David Crompton, chief constable of South Yorkshire Police, insisted that police officers would not be taken off the beat.

He said that community support officers are capable of dealing with 95% of situations that arise but officers would be available to step in for situations that they could not handle.

More likely to be given community based tasks such as policing outside troublesome pubs late at night.

"The sense that police will abandon the street... is absolutely false," he said.

"This is not rebranding," he went on to say, adding that it was "just a bit of re-organisation... in an age where we have less resources."

"This is a storm in a teacup which has been blown out of proportion," he said.

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