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PCSOs thanked for the vital role they have played for two decades

The leaders of Cheshire Constabulary have marked the 20th anniversary of the introduction of Police Community Support Officers to UK policing by thanking the force’s PCSOs for all that they have done – and continue to do – to make the county an even safer place to live, work and visit.

The vital role was introduced by the Police Reform Act on 24 July 2002.

The Metropolitan Police in London created the first PCSOs in the same year, with Cheshire being one of the first forces outside of the capital to follow suit the following year.

PCSOs have since established themselves as the cornerstones of neighbourhood policing in Cheshire, and Chief Constable Mark Roberts has marked the milestone by sending the below to all the county’s PCSOs.

“With it being 20 years since the introduction of Police Community Support Officers, I wanted to write to you and express my thanks for your significant contribution to neighbourhood policing.

It’s fantastic to mark the 20th anniversary of PCSOs, as I remember their introduction as ‘Blunkett’s bobbies’, in reference to the then Home Secretary.

Whilst the policing landscape has changed in the intervening period, the idea of PCSOs providing that consistent, engaging presence in our communities has remained constant.

That is why we remain committed to our ‘122 model’ of having a PCSO and officer for each area, as that really is the bedrock of our policing style in Cheshire.

Now, some 20 years later, the value of our PCSOs has been demonstrated time and again – you are the very cornerstone of local policing.

Your visibility, approachability and local knowledge is highly valued by the people we serve – we know this because it is what they tell us at every opportunity.

Cheshire was one of the first forces to introduce PCSOs, and we remain deeply committed to having a PCSO in every community.

As we celebrate the past two decades, we also look forward to a future where you will continue to play a critical role in our neighbourhoods.

On this milestone, thank you for all that you do – and will continue to do – in making Cheshire safer.”

Chief Constable Roberts met up with PCSOs at Blacon Police Station on the eve of the 20th anniversary date of Sunday 24 July 2022 to thank them in person.

The group included Hoole PCSO Keith Bartlett, who is one of only two PCSOs from Cheshire’s intake in November 2003 still working for the Constabulary.

The other is Nantwich PCSO Sharon Jones.

Warrington PCSO Darren Samuel is the only member of the Constabulary’s initial intake in March 2003 still working for the force.

Chief Constable Roberts said: “Chatting to our PCSOs at Blacon, it struck me that the length of service of three of them – Keith Bartlett (19 years), Wendy Leason (15 years) and Jo Pendrey (12 years) – underlines the difference that our PCSOs make.

“Their longevity in communities means that they are recognised and in turn they know their patch inside out.”

PCSOs have been a crucial part of policing in Cheshire throughout the past two decades.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire John Dwyer said: “PCSOs are at the heart of the community policing model and play a vital role in the police family.

“I am delighted to mark the 20th anniversary of Police Community Support Officers, and it is the perfect opportunity to thank them for their continued hard work and dedication.

“Each of Cheshire Constabulary’s PCSOs provide a vital link between local communities and policing. Their presence offers residents reassurance and a point of contact when needed.

“Their work can vary from school visits to assisting with frontline responses, and they are highly valued by both the communities they serve and the rest of the policing family.

“I am very proud that here in Cheshire we have a PCSO in every community, and I would like to congratulate and thank every PCSO across our county for their service.”

Chief Superintendent Peter Crowcroft, who oversees local policing and PCSOs at Cheshire Constabulary, added: “All 122 community areas of Cheshire have their own dedicated PCSO, who acts as a key liaison point between the local community and policing.

“They provide a visible, accessible and approachable uniformed presence in the community to offer reassurance, defuse situations with threats of conflict, improve confidence and trust, gather intelligence and foster good community relations.

“They also work with businesses, schools and other partners to keep communities safe and deter criminal and anti-social behaviour.

“PCSOs do a fantastic job for both the force and the communities we serve, and I am sure that they will continue to do so for the next 20 years.”

Public service union UNISON has been thanking PCSOs for the work they do by sending them commemorative 20th anniversary booklets and badges.

Joanne Moorcroft, UNISON’S Cheshire Constabulary Branch Secretary, said: “UNISON is celebrating the 20th anniversary of PCSOs across the country.

“Cheshire was one of the pioneering forces who embraced the role of PCSO from its inception.

“Since then, PCSOs have become a vital part of policing within Cheshire.

“The Cheshire Constabulary branch of UNISON is proud of the fantastic work our PCSOs undertake every day in the local communities. They really are worth their weight in gold.”

All four of Cheshire’s local authorities have also lauded the work of PCSOs in Cheshire as part of the 20th anniversary.

Cllr Karen Shore, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, said: “PCSOs play a vital role in our community.

“They provide a key link between residents and the police service, as communities often feel more comfortable reporting issues to PCSOs which they think may be too minor to be reported to the police.

“This gives the police, the council and their partners key opportunities to address any anti-social behaviour and protect our communities.

“PCSOs help with community engagements and supporting partnership patrols and surgeries to raise awareness of crime, exploitation, community speed management and other issues.

“They are a real benefit to the running of our community, and the council will continue to support and champion their role in Cheshire West and Chester.”

Cllr Hitesh Patel, Warrington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection, added: “We are very proud of our PCSOs here in Warrington. They play a vital role in supporting police officers, and providing help and reassurance to the public.

“The 20th anniversary of the PCSO concept is the perfect time to thank all of the dedicated officers who work so tirelessly to build trust with local people, working with our businesses, schools and a range of other partners to help keep our communities safe.”

Cllr Mick Warren, Cheshire East Council’s Chair of Environment and Communities, said: “As a former community police sergeant, I am fully aware of the value our regular police officers, residents and communities place on our PCSOs.

“They do a fantastic job as the public face of policing in our communities, often freeing up other officers to focus on other aspects of their work, whether it is dealing with crime, an incident such as a road traffic collision or simply helping to police public events such as village parades or bigger occasions.

“PCSOs play an extremely important role in supporting the work of our police forces around the country, and as a council we hold them in high regard for the work they do in supporting our residents and businesses.”

Halton Borough Council’s Community Safety Manager Mike Andrews added: “PCSOs play a critical and visible role in helping to keep our communities safe, identifying and protecting the most vulnerable people, and preventing harm.

“They have a key role to play in neighbourhood policing, and their provision of reassurance and visibility has been welcomed by local communities.

“Their contribution to tackling anti-social behaviour has been highlighted by the Community Safety Partnership as a welcome addition to the service.”

Members of the public have also lavished praise on our PCSOs and the service they provide in Cheshire.

Crewe resident Baz Cooke said: “I think that having a PCSO is the best thing that has happened in our village.

“Now we see an officer in the area, people slow down due to the speed enforcement.

“We know the PCSO’s name, and because of their interaction and social media presence, we see them as an actual person.

“They keep us updated and we are lucky to have them.”

Another Cheshire resident added: “I was initially concerned that PCSOs would stop forces from having more police officers, as I was previously a police officer myself.

“However, the PCSO for our area has worked with us, and I’ve changed my mind about PCSOs completely.

“It’s easier to contact them, as they are visible and present.

“People speak to them, which is a really good thing. Hopefully, it continues to be how we have it.”

Pictured - Chief Constable Mark Roberts with Chester Local Policing Unit PCSOs, from left, Jo Pendrey, Lauren Swindells, Keith Bartlett and Wendy Leason.

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