Plans to cut PCSO funding set to be discussed

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Lancashire County Council's cabinet will debate a proposal to remove its share of funding for more than a dozen Police and Community Support Officers.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet will consider cutting its contribution to the cost of Police and Community Support Officers (PCSOs) in the county, when it meets on Thursday.

If approved, the authority’s share of funding for 17 PCSOs would be withdrawn.

The proposal - which would save the council £265,000 per year - was originally put forward in January, before being sent out for public consultation during the budget-setting process.

A report to go before cabinet says it is expected Lancashire Constabulary could “consolidate” its remaining PCSO budget and would be “likely” to retain 9 out of the 17 affected officers.

The majority of the PCSOs which the council part-funds focus their efforts on early intervention, working with children and families to deter low-level anti-social behaviour, knife crime and abuse of drugs and alcohol.

A further two support officers work on the bus network in the county - targeting services transporting schoolchildren - and are charged with reducing bullying and verbal and physical assaults. They also document checks on taxi drivers taking children to and from school, as well as working with neighbourhood police to combat missile attacks aimed at public transport.

Just over 200 people responded to the council’s consultation and cabinet will be asked to consider the outcome before reaching its decision.

Ninety-one percent of respondents strongly disagreed with a reduction in funding for the so-called “Early Action and Schools” PCSOs, with more than half saying they feared a negative impact on young people themselves.

Meanwhile, 85 percent of those who made representations strongly disagreed with cuts to “Safer Travel” officers, with almost a quarter concerned about a reduction in safety on public transport. Six percent, however, strongly agreed with this part of the proposal.

When the plan was originally considered earlier this year, the council’s report outlined the risk of low-level crime and disorder escalating into more serious criminal activity. But the authority pledged to continue to work strategically with partners to reduce crime in the county.

The proposal was part of a suite of £81m worth of suggested savings, which the council said had been made in the context of “unprecedented financial challenges”.