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Tony Makara

I think there is a role for community police officers, but that role should not be front line. The fact that such special officers want to serve the community is to be applauded. However they lack the training to deal with crisis situations like a child drowning. If we are to have a community police let their role be purely auxiliary and not front-line.

Helen Smith

I agree with Tony. I don't blame these PCSOs in particular but they do lack training, part of yet another half-baked Labour policy.

I live on a council estate and constantly have trouble with yobs throwing bricks at my window and damaging my car. There is rarely a PCSO in sight. A few miles from here there is a nice village and just driving through the other day, I saw a whole gang of them booking people for parking on yellow lines. Why not deploy PCSOs where they are most needed, for goodness sake?

The sooner the better Conservatives win, so they can attempt to sort out Labour's mess.


The whole PCSO idea was ridiculous from the start anyway - instead of real police, let's have some people in uniform who haven't been trained and have no powers of arrest (and who therefore don't need to be paid as much).
Whoever thought that that was a good idea does not deserve to be in any position of responsibility.
The money wasted on this crackpot scheme would have been better spent on recruiting and training real police officers.


At the moment, we seem to have a host of front-line-qualified police officers who are tied to their desks and can't therefore get out onto the front line and help. Alongside them, we have a host of PCSOs not able to deal with emergencies, who are on the front line all the time.

Surely a swap is in order? Get the PCSOs to help with all the reporting and form-filling that has to go on behind the scenes, freeing up police[wo]men to work the streets.

Andrew James

I would like nothing better than to see PCSOs scrapped and replaced with proper police. I'm living in Salford at the moment, and most recently, when I had my car broken into and the stereo taken outside my front door, a couple of local PCSOs rang the doorbell and asked, 'Have you let the police know?'

Hang on, I thought. Aren't you the...?

No, they're not.

I then rang the police, was put through to an officer at a desk, who seemed completely disinterested and told me in no uncertain terms that they wouldn't be able to do anything. There is a CCTV camera on our stretch of the road, but all the neighbours tell me it is switched off. Where is all the money going?

BorisforPM is absolutely right - relegate PCSOs to the office and remove their puny titles, and bring out the trained officers on to the streets. Confidence has to be reinvested in neighbourhood policing, and the current stewardship of PCSOs renders this aim unachievable.

As for Blackpool, it apparently contains some of the most deprived wards in the country, many plagued by drug addiction; which makes it all the more important that some (or all) of it is returned to Conservative hands at the next election. I should know - I was born there.

Richard Carey

An excellent article, Mr Watt!

Editor, you said a little while ago that Conservatives needed to show some passion and get angry where issues demanded it. Well, I'm genuinely angry now.

Two uniformed public servants stood on the bank of a pond and watched a 10 year old boy drown. What has Labour done to our country, and to one of our most honourable of public services?

Although you can never know how you would really react until you're in a situation like this, I'd like to think that as a civilian I have done my best to help. Perhaps I could have persuaded the two plastic bobbies on the bank to have held the other end of an improvised line, but they may have to have performed a full H&S risk assessment first in case they pulled a muscle. More likely, I'd have been arrested for assaulting a police officer when the two PCSO's restrained me to stop me helping. From my memory of the story, the 10 year old had already shown great bravery himself by saving his 3 year old sister. I gather the training for a PCSO is relatively short - I wonder where they find the time to train the humanity out of these people?

Of course there is risk in these situations, but when you wear a uniform you embrace the expectation that you may have to place yourself voluntarily in harm's way in the public good. If you're not ready for that, dress differently.

Can anyone point me to a response to this from our Home Affairs team yet? I don't think anyone would doubt that ex-SAS David "Basher" Davis whould have had a go. His near-namesake and parliamentary colleague Special Constable David Davies MP could probably also provide some useful commentary on this.

This deserves to be one of the longest comment threads in the history of CH.com. Unfortunately, I fear that too many of my colleagues are over on ToryDiary eating their young...


Helen Smith (Sept 22, 2007 at 10:56), you will find numerous examples of these 'half-baked Labour policy' ideas implemented - for example in health where quasi-doctors (nurse prescribers, healthcare practitioners, etc.) replace the real stuff, and in the classroom where teaching assistant substitutes the teacher.

Alan Douglas

Tony Says "special officers want to serve the community"

The only 2 I ever met wanted nothing more than to be aggravated bully-bosy, and were not in the leastinterested in "serving the community", but in issuing parking tickets. They are there NOT to serve the community, but to support the police. The "community", ie us, are the enemy !

Alan Douglas


I don't agree with your comments Tec.
In my excellent GP practice, I am called in every 12 months for a health and medication review, and this is undertaken by a nurse. They are addressed as 'Nurse Jackie' or 'Nurse Mary' hardly a quasi title.

The nurse practioner will check my weight, BP, takes a regularly required blood sample, checks lung capacity, and other small procedures. She'll then discuss with me any problems, and if appropriate will straightaway make me an appointment to see the Doctor. She will check my medication requirements, adding or deleting as necessary. I am perfectly happy that none of these checks really needs to take up the valuable time of the Doctor.

My niece is a teaching assistant and she does exactly what it says on the tin.....assists the teacher.

Alan Douglas you said...'the community is the enemy'.... Strong words, but unfortunately, in some cases, if your home is being vandalised or whatever, true.
But I think these PCSO's do a valuable job and can deal with community matters, ie. kids kicking balls in pensioner's gardens, breaking fences, sorting out disagreements with neighbours, or parking offences etc. that don't need a fully qualified officer.
Btw, would you be a 'poor beleagered motorist' at all? You know the sort I mean 'I've only been parked here on double yellow lines for 5 minutes Officer',and then complaining bitterly when you get a ticket?

In fact I had a conversation with a young officer when I was out campaigning during the last election. He told me how he and his colleagues felt demeaned and undermined by the Tory sneers regarding the work they do, and as a consequence felt that it caused the public to lose confidence and respect in them. His intention was to join the regular force in the future, and felt his duties as a PCSO gave him a good grounding for his future career.

These are decent, hardworking, mortgage paying family people that you continue to alienate and try to put out of work.

Why are Conservatives so vindictive?


Seasider (Sept 22, 2007 at 09:57), I am sorry my point was missed and I have only the highest regard for the nurse at your GP, as well as mine at my own practice as I am a GP myself. It is not about personal qualities and capabilities, rather appropriateness and safety of policy. While it is appropriate for my nurse to perform breathing tests, obtain bloods, etc, it would not be appropriate for her to shoulder responsibilities that pose hidden risks.

Having previously trained in rheumatology, I only refer difficult cases in that field when I require additional advice and investigative support. Often my referrals are seen by Nurse Specialists who in turn refer the cases to consultants. A tragic example recently arose when a case of presumed carpal tunnel syndrome was operated by an orthopaedic nurse specialist, but because the symptoms were very similar to cervical rib, that diagnosis was overlooked and the patient continued to worsen and suffered vascular damage to his hand.

Doctors by training have a wider diagnostic ability than nurses where partial manifestation of a condition can be mimicked by unrelated diseases.

The issues in question are therefore training and responsibility, both of which have resource and financial implications. Often cheaper is not best.

Similarly, my wife is assisted by a teaching assistant at times, and I need not dilate here on their respective roles and qualities.

In this discussion thread, the tragedy should not be blamed on the PCSOs but rather on the adequacy of the training, and the scope and remit of their appointment; in short, it is a question of policy. The prefix 'police' places too high an expectation and onus on such officers, given the limitations on their role. We should train more police officers, while the name and role of PCSO should be redefined, if they are to be kept on.


PCSO and PCs have the same training on something called risk assesment. The number one prority of this is that of the individuals safety. So the "surely few, if any constable would have stood idly at the side of the pond" statement is popycock, as it is individual discresion in both roles. I think you knowledge of PCSOs is some what limited. You humour me in that the only information you do have is from tabloid journilism. If you obtained a copy of the police log involving the drowning incident you would not be so critical.


Its a shame the conservatives feel the need to jump on yet another band wagon, Before I carry on I should point out that I have no interest in any party as they are all basically the same...So the idea is to scrap PCSOs and replace them with Police officers ? Which basically means for every 3 community officers on the street trying to make a difference you would have one police officer sat in a station moaning about how much the job has changed. As for the drowning incident which in my opinion the actions of the parents are more questionable than those of any PCSO ( if anyone bothers to find out how old the kids were and how far they were away from home etc etc ) I think not helping says more about the individual than the role of PCSOs, I know community officers that would and have put themselves at risk with no protection to save others. ( not that papers would ever report this ) People should remember PCSOs are just the same as you and me with little protection, Remember with the drowning incident, PCSOs were in the park trying to help...Where was your local officer ? in the station waiting for a car perhaps. Remove Pcsos and all you will do is take a deterent of the street, the people that dont like pcsos are the ones upto no good....Mr Cameron would do well to think about this, I think PCSOs are better thought of than politicians think. Just my opinion


Regarding the drowning Incident, the two Pcso's mentioned COULD NOT SWIM. It would have happened if there was a non swimming Police Officer present.
No one as mentioned where were the parents at the time? The buck stops with them.

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