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Consultation to be held on the future funding of PCSO post in Kessingland

PUBLISHED: 16:45 21 September 2017

Marram Green, Kessingland.

Marram Green, Kessingland.

Nick Butcher Photography 01502 714843

Residents are set to vote on whether their village should keep its own dedicated police community support officer (PCSO).

Kessingland Parish Council has agreed arrangements for an informal referendum on the future funding of a full time PCSO post for the village.

It comes after a policy change by Suffolk Police, with the community consulted on whether they wished to fund the cost between July and September last year. The future of the village’s PCSO role was subsequently put to a public vote and residents voted in favour of paying more council tax to retain a dedicated officer for 2017/18.

With the council entering into a Service Level Agreement with Suffolk Constabulary, a parish council spokesman claimed that since then, the level of anti-social behaviour across the village had increased and “the local community are questioning whether the continued funding of the PCSO post represents value for money or not.”

The spokesman added: “In essence the working hours of the current PCSO post does not meet the needs of the local community in that the majority of anti-social behaviour occurs in the evening and at weekends and despite fully funding a PCSO post, these hours are not covered.

“It was understood in September 2016 that a review of the working hours for PCSOs across Suffolk was to be undertaken but to date this review has not taken place. The parish council has made numerous representations since September 2016, through correspondence and at meetings, calling for the policy restricting the hours of the PCSOs to be extended to include evenings and most weekends.

“We are now at the point where we will soon have to consider the budget and precept for 2018/19 and as we are accountable to the public, the parish council is once again seeking the views of the local community.”

An informal village referendum will be held from Monday, October 2 to Monday, October 16. Each address in Kessingland will be given one vote, thereby allowing the community to have their say on whether they wish to see the continued funding of the PCSO post or not.

Counting will take place on Tuesday, October 17 and the results will be announced at a public meeting to be held at 6pm on October 17 at Marram Green, Hall Road, Kessingland.

An extraordinary meeting of the parish council will then take place on Wednesday, October 25 at 7pm, during which a formal decision will be made on the future funding of the PCSO post for Kessingland.

For more details call the clerk on 01502 744367 or email clerkkessingland@outlook.com

Review carried out

Police chiefs confirmed this week that a review of the working hours for PCSOs across Suffolk has taken place.

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton said: “A review of the Safer Neighbourhood Team Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) shift patterns has now been carried out.

“Following this, a number of options will be considered by Suffolk Constabulary and the Police and Crime Commissioner as part of the wider force continuous improvement and budgeting programme that is currently under way.

“It is important to note that there are significant cost implications with the option of PCSOs reverting to full shifts and therefore any decision around shift patterns will have to consider not only meeting demands on police and addressing community concerns, but also the pressure of shrinking budgets.”

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