Hundreds of PCSOs to lose their jobs in West Midlands Police cuts
Hundreds of Police Community Support Officers(PCSO) are set to lose their job as West Midlands Police axes up to 2,500 officers and civilian staff, it has been revealed.
The move will be part of a major shake up of neighbourhood policing that is expected to signal an end of police involvement in community events such as fetes and football tournaments.
The near 2,000 police officers - including the force's 605 PCSOs - who work on the programme have been warned they will no longer be shielded from the effects of Government budget cuts.
West Midlands Chief Constable Chris Sims said: "I do not think this is the end of the PCSO. It is a role that still has a lot to offer but there will be significantly fewer by 2020. I cannot be precise about the numbers because this matter is still under review but we are not talking about ten or 20 posts. It will be in the hundreds.
"This is certainly not what I would have wanted but we have already had to make £126m worth of cuts and face the prospect of saving a further £120m over the next five years.
"We have got to work in different ways to meet our key responsibility of public protection.
"Neighbourhood policing has grown beyond what was originally intended with us filling lots of gaps in communities.
"The PCSOs have been terrifically successful but we must now retreat to the core of police work and concentrate on areas such as domestic abuse and child exploitation."
West Midlands Police Federation deputy chairman Tom Cuddeford declared: "The next few years are going to be very worrying for police officers and staff. We are going to lose some excellent PCSOs.
"The force has got to be open and honest with the public and say clearly what we can no longer do. Hopefully other agencies can take those tasks on board.
"It will be very sad to lose the interaction we get with the public through summer fetes and similar events but the Chief can only work within the budget he is given."
Up to 2,500 West Midland Police officers and civilian staff are set to be axed in the next four years as the force battles to save a further £120m.
It has already cut £126m from the budget and lost 3,000 people from the payroll since 2010 meaning the overall strength is expected to fall by around 5,500 to 8,000 in a decade.
One estimate suggests that this will include 1,800 police officers but this will be achieved through natural wastage since they cannot be made redundant.
The plan is the result of a £25m five year deal with private consultancy firm Accenture launched last summer that will trigger a £100m drive to revolutionise and streamline the way the force handles data, uses mobile and digital technology and interacts with social media and other organisations such as local authorities.
Mr Sims explained: "With shrinking resources we must rise to this challenge. We have got to deliver at least as good, if not a better, way of policing."
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