An MP has called on Lancashire County Council to reconsider its decision to spend £3m originally set aside for 48 new PCSOs on a social worker led early intervention scheme.
County Hall’s previous Tory administration earmarked £3.7m for four additional Police Community Support Officers, working in each of its 12 district council areas.
But the ruling Labour group instead decided to spend the cash on a new ‘Early Action Response’ service, creating the equivalent of 27 full-time posts, most of whom will be social workers.
The council agreed to invest £3m, matched by £3m from Lancashire Police, on the project.
Now Morecambe and Lunesdale’s Conservative MP David Morris has tabled a Parliamentary motion urging the council to change its mind.
The motion read: “That this House notes that Lancashire County Council has reallocated a budget of £3.7m, originally intended to create 48 police community support officers or 30 police constables, to fund the creation of 27 early action response officers at a cost of £6m; further notes that most of the early action response officers will be social workers; believes that this budget would have been far better spent on frontline community policing; and calls on Lancashire County Council to reconsider this decision.”
Council leader Jennifer Mein has defended the move, arguing an early action response service was a better use of public funds.
She said neither Lancashire Police nor the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner thought funding more PCSOs was the most effective way to spend the money, and working with vulnerable people at an early stage would “nip problems in the bud before they escalate into crises”.
The project will create two teams, which will initially help the most vulnerable children, adults and families in Preston and Burnley.
These could be people who are struggling to cope with issues like domestic abuse, youth offending or mental health concerns.