Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs)

Who are Police Community Support Officers (PCSO)?

Police Community Support Officers are also known as PCSOs. PCSOs are not police officers but they are employees of the police authority. The Police Reform Act 2002 outlines the many powers given to PCSOs. They often support the work of police officers, although they also patrol streets, assist in crime scenes and major events and can provide help to members of public directly. They work within neighbourhood police teams and they are on foot patrol much of the time. PSCOs can be distinguished from police officers because PSCOs will be wearing clothing that clearly displays their role – PCSO or Police Community Support Officer. Much of their work is within the community. Their role involves getting local residents to express their concerns about crime, anti-social behaviour and other issues affecting them. PCSOs get local residents involved by going from door-to-door delivering flyers to invite residents to attend neighbourhood policing meetings.

What powers are given to PCSOs?

PCSOs have powers to deal with many issues. These are:

  • Issue fixed penalty notices – Fixed penalty notices can relate to offences of disorder, failure to secure regular attendance at school of registered pupil, presence of excluded pupil in public place, riding on a footway committed by cycling, graffiti or fly-posting, litter, offences under dog control orders.

  • Power to require name and address

  • Power to detain

  • Power to search individuals and to seize and retain

  • Power to require name and address of person acting in anti-social manner

  • Power to require name and address: road traffic offences

  • Power to use reasonable force to detain person

  • Power to disperse groups and remove young people to their place of residence

  • Power to remove truants to designated premises

  • Alcohol consumption in designated public places

  • Power to serve closure notice for licensed premises persistently selling to children

  • Confiscation of alcohol

  • Confiscation of tobacco

  • Power of search and seizure: alcohol and tobacco

  • Power to seize and detain:controlled drugs

  • Park Trading Offences

  • Entry to save life or limb or prevent serious damage to property

  • Entry to investigate licensing offences

  • Seizure of vehicles used to cause alarm etc

  • Abandoned vehicles

  • Power to stop vehicle for testing

  • Power to stop cycles

  • Power to control traffic for purposes other than escorting a load of exceptional dimensions

  • Powers to control traffic for purposes of escorting a load of exceptional dimensions

  • Carrying out road checks

  • Power to place traffic signs

  • Cordon areas

  • Power to stop and search vehicles etc. In authorised areas

  • Photographing person arrested, detained or power to modify photograph

Neighbourhood policing meetings

PCSOs distribute flyers door-to-door inviting residents to discuss local issues involving crime and anti-social behaviour. Each neighbourhood should have a dedicated team, the area that each team covers vary. The teams are made up of PCSOs, police officers and special constables. The meetings are held with residents who have attended. The discussions focus on local issues and concerns.

Approaching and contacting PCSOs

When PCSOs are on patrol they can be stopped by citizens for urgent or non urgent concerns. Citizens can also contact PCSOs by phone, e-mail or make an appointment to meet them at an arranged time. Although PCSOs are available to be contacted, citizens should contact the emergency services in an emergency situation.

Each neighbourhood policing team should have their own website which should be updated regularly with local information. On the website, the kind of information that should be available to citizens are contact details of PCSOs, when and where the next neighbourhood policing meeting will take place, the priorities that police will take that have been discussed and agreed. There should also be information about the action that police are taking to deal with the issues raised by citizens and neighbours. The website should also display statistical information relating to local crime and crime maps. There is also information available which should tell citizens about how to get involved in local issues and concerns and prevent crime.