Fifty new police community support officers will be taken on in the West Midlands, it has been announced.
Recruitment was starting today for the positions, which will see new staff patrolling areas including Walsall, Wolverhampton and Sandwell.
Police bosses today said PCSOs play a ‘highly valuable role’ and areas where they are in force often see a drop in crime.
Supt Jo Smallwood, who is leading the recruitment drive, said: “PCSOs undertake non-confrontational problem solving such as anti-social behaviour and neighbourhood priorities, working with other agencies.
“They also support victims of crime and provide reassurance at crime scenes.
“We are delighted to be able to begin recruiting again and look forward to receiving applications.”
New recruits will be given seven weeks of intensive training followed by a probationary period. They will join a neighbourhood policing team, which includes police officers and is led by a sergeant.
It is hoped PCSOs can be used to deal with issues in the neighbourhood which don’t require full policing powers.
Bob Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, said: “PCSOs are an integral part of the local policing team. They increase visibility and increase public confidence in policing.
“When PCSOs were introduced, initial reviews actually saw crime figures increase in the areas they patrolled.
“It was thought at first this meant they had failed. In reality, the additional presence and reassurance PCSOs bring meant that our communities felt more confident to come forward and report crimes. Over time, the better intelligence and understanding of crime in the area that PCSOs provided has led to significant crime reduction, a pattern we’ve seen across the force.”
The recruitment drive comes just weeks after the force launched a hunt for 50 new specials. Fifty volunteers are being recruited to give their time to help out in the West Midlands.
In the first five days of recruitment, 450 people had applied. Special roles will be dished out on a first-come first-served basis and recruitment will close once 1,000 applications have been received.
West Midlands Police needs to make £126 million of cuts before 2015.
Adverts for new PCSOs can be found on the force’s website at www.westmidlands.police.uk/wmprrecruit/index.asp