SCORES of police community support officer jobs have been saved from the chop.
West Mercia Police has pledged to scrap old plans to axe 49 PCSO roles across the force area between now and 2015.
The move, revealed by police and crime commissioner Bill Longmore during a special meeting at County Hall, Worcester, will mean that the current figure of 233 PCSOs is maintained.
The move comes despite 140 police officer jobs being axed as part of a plan to cut £21 million from the force’s budget.
The PCSO pledge was welcomed during a meeting of the watchdog-style police and crime panel, despite some concern that it was attempting to paper over cracks.
Councillor Jabba Riaz, who represents Worcester on the panel, said: “In Worcester we’ve got this ludicrous situation where some security staff seem to have more powers than PCSOs. The relationship PCSOs have with communities is invaluable, but we need more actual pol-ice officers on the streets, rather than PCSOs.”
Mr Longmore said it was an important measure in helping free up police officers and that the 49 jobs saved would be next reviewed in 2015.
Chief constable David Shaw said: “It’s entirely right that when PCSOs came in we decided to take the lower range of powers available for them because it’s very easy to ratchet up powers, but harder to take them away.
“We aimed to start at the lower end and build it up slowly as we go along and we are actually currently reviewing both their powers and hours worked.
“I’ll be engaging with the commissioner on what we do with them, but as far as I am concerned they do an excellent job talking to communities, collecting evidence and offering assistance to our police.”
At the moment, PCSOs work on shifts until 10pm, but the review is looking at whether they can be more flexible.