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James Barlow sums it all up

Posted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:20 am
by falkor
Back in the fifties, the British Police got a bit fed up with dealing with motor cars, so the post of Traffic Warden was created to do the tedious business of wandering about giving tickets and keeping traffic moving. The Traffic Wardens – there are still some about – have Yellow-banded caps, and are not to be confused with local authority employed Civil Enforcement Officers who wear red-banded caps. The latter were introduced when the Police decided that even running Traffic Wardens was a major pain in the behind, and de facto lobbied for decriminalisation of many parking offences by virtue of not enforcing the law.
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A few years ago, the Police also realised that much of the grunt work of walking about the place being visible, issuing criminal penalties and talking to the public was also a major pain in the behind. Furthermore, the government of the day (prop. A. Blair) noticed that Police Constables were actually quite expensive, what with all the training and the final-salary pension.

So via the Police Reform Act 2002, Britons were introduced to Police Community Support Officers. Now I’ve met quite a few PCSOs – in my professional capacity, not theirs – and they are a great bunch. Enthusiastic, willing to get stuck in, and frankly if it weren’t for the money issues they’d probably all be Probationary Constables. (Although there is one member of the team I’ve seen patrolling Cotham Brow in a XXXXL stab vest who could perhaps use a bit of nutritional advice). You’ll recognise them by their blue-banded caps.

PCSOs are less expensive than Police Constables, but oddly that hasn’t resulted in a reduction in Police budgets. In Bristol, it is actually that Local Authority that pays for a good chunk of the PCSOs deployed in the city. The trend throughout this narrative is that you, the taxpayer, tend to get a reduced quality of service, but end up paying more for it. This is not intended as a slight to PCSOs, but given that they have few police powers beyond issuing fixed penalty notices (although see below for nuances) it is a brutal truth that they are not performing anything close to the same role as a constable on beat patrol. Some might say “ah, but they are not intended to replace beat patrols by constables”, to which I reply “yes, pull the other one, it has bells on”.

I’m running for elected office, but in the short-term, there’s not much I can do about my perceptions of the relative expense of policing in Bristol. If there was a Conservative administration here by the end of June 4th (and assuming I was in it), I’d be agitating for the break-up of the Avon & Somerset Constabulary, and the creation of a City of Bristol service force under the command of a Chief Constable

Re: James Barlow sums it all up

Posted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:21 pm
by Arthur ASCII
And his point is.....?