Posted: Friday 14th June 2013
I mentioned a few months ago about asking the Chief Constable, Nick Gargan to look into the range of powers available to PCSOs in Avon and Somerset. There are some powers for PCSOs that are for Chief Constables to decide and within that range we were not using all the PCSO powers available.
Assistant Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe led a review and looked at the merits of further powers, such as whether PCSOs should have the power to detain people for up to 30 minutes. PCSOs were asked for their views and over 75 per cent wanted an increase to their powers. I also asked you to contact me with your views in this column. Following that review the Chief Constable has now decided that PCSOs will have increased powers requiring people to remain for 30 minutes, to search for alcohol and to seize drugs. The change has not come into effect yet but I know the PCSOs I have spoken to are welcoming the additional powers.
PCSOs are not replacement police officers and they will not have the power to arrest people. They will continue to work to complement and support police officers. Providing a visible and accessible uniformed presence, offering community reassurance but with the new power to detain people for a limited time. I am great supporter of Neighbourhood Policing teams and PCSOs play a vital role.
I have been involved in discussions in Bristol about whether pubs and clubs should face a charge for policing and cleaning the streets, called a 'Late Night Levy'. I have heard the pros and cons of such a tax and as Commissioner I weigh up the costs of policing from late nights and how much of that is appropriate for taxpayers to pay. I would like Bristol City Council to consult the public to discover your views. If I work on the premise that 'the polluter pays' then it should be for clubs and pubs to pay for the extra policing required on Friday and Saturday night rather than the wider community. However I am fully supportive of having a vibrant night time economy and appreciate that all businesses are having a tough time.
We are in a time of shrinking police and local authority budgets and we are already expecting the amount of Government money we receive for essential services like policing to reduce even further. This is why I have started consultation on the policing part of the council tax. One-third of the money for policing comes from you. Your contribution towards policing has been frozen for the past three years and I am out on the road in Bristol over the summer finding out your views about how much you would like to pay towards policing.
More details about the events I am attending are in the events calendar. To have your say on how much you are prepared to pay towards policing click here.