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Chris Grayling should be bold and replace "community support officers" with proper policemen

GRAYLING-OPEN-SHIRT After outlining his desire for a "war on anti-social behaviour" last month, shadow home secretary Chris Grayling has taken up those themes in an interview for today's Yorkshire Post.

Mr Grayling reiterates his desire to introduce non-criminalising community penalties as well as short term curfews through grounding orders; and he also repeats his belief that more crimes should be subject to automatic prosecution rather than a caution.

But the line which strikes me as most significant is the active consideration he is giving to the abolition of so-called Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), which were created by the Government in 2002 but who don't have the power of arrest. He says:

“Doing way with PCSOs is something I’m looking at at the moment."

He goes on to add:

"I’m minded to say that decisions about their futures should be taken locally but it’s not something I’ve reached a settled view on yet."

I've always thought that PCSOs were a typical Labour gimmick which amounted to an attempt to provide policing on the cheap. But, of course, it's not proper policing due to the lack of powers invested in the officers.

Cameron Watt wrote this eloquent case for scrapping PCSOs on ConservativeHome back in 2007 and his argument that criminals simply do not fear PCSOs because of their inability to arrest them remains as true today.  

So as he considers their future, I would urge Mr Grayling to be bold and back their abolition - and replacement with fully-fledged police officers - as a further sign of the seriousness with which he is taking tackling the blight of crime - petty, anti-social or otherwise - in communities across the country.

As with other policy areas, there is no reason why an incoming Conservative Government should automatically accept the structures bequeathed it by Labour.

Jonathan Isaby

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