Police chief to meet with Morecambe Town Council over PCSO funding cut fears

South Yorkshire Police said it was stepping up patrols in the Kendray area of Barnsley.
South Yorkshire Police said it was stepping up patrols in the Kendray area of Barnsley.

The future of six PCSOs in Morecambe is still in the balance ahead of a crunch meeting this week.

Morecambe Town Council will hear from a Lancashire police chief before making a final decision on plans to scrap funding for six extra Police Community Support Officers in the town.

Superintendent Nicki Evans will talk to councillors at a public meeting on Thursday night at Morecambe Town Hall.

The town council has paid £67,000 towards the cost of Morecambe PCSOs every year since 2011.

But after a vote in December, councillors agreed to pull funding unless they were reassured in writing by police chiefs that the overall number of Morecambe officers would not be cut.

A town council spokesman said their funding was “disproportionate compared to other public bodies” and said it was “unreasonable to continue to fund PCSOs at this level if the Morecambe Neighbourhood Policing Team was to be eroded in any way”.

Meanwhile the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner has urged the town council to keep paying for PCSOs to patrol the beat.

Clive Grunshaw, whose budget covers two-thirds of PCSO funding, said: “PCSOs provide an invaluable service as part of our local policing model and I would urge all of our partners, who share a responsibility for community safety, to continue with part-funding of PCSOs.

“If the town council chooses not to continue with their funding, then that is an issue for them. However, I will continue to fund PCSOs at the same level, but where they are deployed becomes a matter for the local policing team and will be based on community safety need. If the need is in Morecambe then that is where they will be deployed, but if it is elsewhere in the division, then they will be sent there.”

Last year Lancaster City Council paid £99,000 to part-fund nine other PCSOs in the district. The city council’s 2016/17 budget plans could be revealed at a cabinet meeting tonight (Tuesday) at Morecambe Town Hall.

PCSOs are likely not be funded by the city council in 2016/17 because last year’s grant was for one year only.

Morecambe Community High School also part-funds a PCSO.

Matt Auger, head teacher, said: “All head teachers who have PCSOs have been contacted by the Crime Commissioner’s office to ask if we can commit to funding PCSOs for the next financial year.

“I have replied saying that we have not as yet set our budget and cannot commit to the expenditure.

“I have however told him that I think that our PCSO plays a significant role supporting the work we do in school. Our PCSO gives us access to the police service in a way that we could not otherwise achieve. Our PCSO supports our curriculum and works in a preventative manner.

“We pay around £12,500 per year but in the current context of increasing costs for schools I am aware that some schools may re-consider this provision.”

Last November, Morecambe police chief Insp Kirstie Banks-Lyon told the town council the town’s PCSOs would remain in place if funding partnerships continued.

Insp Banks-Lyon also said Morecambe Neighbourhood Police would be “reorganised” to prevent any loss of numbers and would gain managers in key roles.

PCSOs were first introduced in 2002. They do not have the same powers as police officers but provide an extra uniformed presence on the streets.

Morecambe PCSOs have been publicly praised for helping to apprehend suspects and reduce anti-social behaviour in the town.