PCSOs apply for officer roles as Norfolk restructure plans go ahead
More than 40 police community support officers facing redundancy under Norfolk Constabularys radical new policing model have applied to become police officers.
More than 40 police community support officers facing redundancy under Norfolk Constabularys radical new policing model have applied to become police officers. In October, Chief Constable Simon Bailey announced plans to cut all 150 of the forces PCSO roles and replace them with fully-powered officers. At the time, he expected almost all the PCSOs to not apply for other positions but more than a quarter of those losing their jobs have now put themselves forward for officer roles. Six former PCSOs have already passed through the application process, and the force has promised to try to help as many of the 100 police staff who want to stay with the force as possible. Following consultation with affected staff, Mr Bailey has decided that the restructure needs to go ahead. He said: I am pleased to inform you that more than 40 of the affected staff applied to be police officers, with six already successful through the process and a further 30 reaching the assessment centre stage. In addition, nearly 100 staff have shown a preference for remaining with the organisation. I am proud of our track record of redeploying at risk staff within the organisation and we will continue to support them as much as we can. However, I cannot avoid the fact that a number of my staff may be made redundant at the end of this change process and this remains a difficult, challenging and sensitive period for the constabulary. The decision to entirely remove the PCSO function in Norfolk was made after comparing their cost with that of police officers. By 2019/20, the force expects employing a PCSO will cost it £43,400 per year, while a police constable who has more powers will cost just £41,800. In total, the Norfolk 2020 model will replace the 150 PCSOs with 97 new roles, comprising 81 police officers and 16 civilian staff. Due to the reduced wages and additional responsibilities PCSOs would receive if they applied to become police officers, Mr Bailey initially believed many would be discouraged from staying with the force. The plans will also see Norfolk Constabulary restructure its neighbourhood policing model, close many of its buildings and overhaul its investigative capability. Following the staff consultation, it has decided to further reduce the opening hours of it remaining public enquiry offices, which it claims will improve resilience by avoiding early closures through short notice abstraction. Deputy Chief Constable Nick Dean, who is leading on the 2020 plans, said: I have greatly admired the professionalism shown in the feedback submitted from both UNISON and affected staff. Despite the challenges involved, a good deal of consideration was given to alternative proposals and we have taken everything proposed into account in our decisions. I am acutely aware, that with the staff collective consultation formally closing, and limited changes to the proposals, we now need to help our staff sensitively through the nest steps. We will, of course, seek to keep redundancies to as little a number as possible and I am pleased to see that already half of the affected staff have shown a preference to stay within the organisation.