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West Yorkshire research: Do CSO numbers have an impact on crime?

Police lineHigher numbers of Community Support Officers on neighbourhood policing teams have a significant impact on recorded crime levels, new research suggests.

An evaluation examining the mix of police constables and CSOs on three neighbourhood teams in West Yorkshire found that the team that comprised of 80 per cent community support officers saw an increase in total recorded crime during the three month project.

However, no difference in total crime was recorded for teams that had a 50/50 mix of both PCs and CSOs or had predominantly more PCs.

The types of incidents where recorded crime increased were all deemed “low level” and included anti-social behaviour, some damage and some vehicle crime.

The CSO-led teams had no significant effect in relation to initial and repeat calls for service. Data from the project, which took place between June and August last year, was compared to data from the previous three months as well as the same period the previous year.

District Commander Angela Williams said, as she presented the findings to the International Conference on Evidence Based Policing, said she would rather have more PCs than PCSOs on neighbourhood policing teams.

She said: “This could shape future blends on neighbourhood policing teams – and it could be that there should be no reduction of PCs on neighbourhood teams with the potential for future increases in crime.

“The evaluation gives a wider holistic view on their [PCSOs’] effectiveness on calls for service, repeat calls for service and total recorded crime.

“CSOs are very effective but as a district commander I would like more PCs rather than CSOs due to the flexibility of the resource.”

But former West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable John Parkinson, who retired in March 2013, warned: “We cannot jump to conclusions, we need a follow up as to the reasons for the increase,” according to reports from the PoliceOracle.com website.

The survey also showed that participants felt that the ideal blend on neighbourhood teams was to have slightly more officers than PCSOs.

The CSO role was introduced in December 2002.

Date posted: July 17, 2014

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