The role of Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) has been developed as a result of the Police Reform Act 2002.
PCSOs work alongside the police in a supporting role, providing a visible presence and helping to reassure the public. They patrol their local area, providing assistance and dealing with incidents of nuisance and anti-social behaviour which don't require full police powers. By dealing with minor incidents PCSOs enable police to make more effective use of their time.
PCSOs are sometimes given the power to direct traffic, issue fixed penalty notices and detain someone whilst waiting for the arrival of a police constable. The work may also include assisting at large public gatherings, such as sports events and public demonstrations.
PCSOs work under the direction of the police commander in their area. They work in pairs or small teams.
The exact nature of the work of PCSOs will vary, depending on the particular police force and in response to local needs.
PCSOs work shifts, including weekends and bank holidays. Shifts are usually between 8am and midnight but can be in operation 24 hours a day in some forces. Part-time work and job-share may be available.
A lot of the work will be outside, patrolling residential and commercial areas on foot. There may also be indoor work such as giving talks to community groups about crime prevention.
A uniform is provided and officers are equipped with radios to keep in contact with colleagues and call for assistance if required.
To be a PCSO you should:
PCSOs are employed and managed by local police forces across the country and demand is rapidly increasing.
The post of police community support officer is sometimes used as a stepping stone into other police staff careers, or can lead to tutoring new PCSOs. It is a good starting point for those wishing to become police officers, although they currently still need to enter through the traditional recruitment process and meet all the requirements. See Police Constable profile for more information.
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