Leeds PCSO numbers ‘may increase’ in crime hotspots despite funding fears

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The number of civilian beat bobbies in some parts of Leeds may INCREASE next year, it has been claimed, despite fears that many roles could be scrapped in the wake of wider funding cuts.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, confirmed there will be a minimum of three PCSOs (police community support officers) in each of the city’s 33 council wards next year.

And though this is less than the current five per ward, a new way of allocating numbers - and successful negotiations with West Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) - could see individual PCSO teams expanded in high-crime and poverty-hit areas.

The council currently co-funds 165 PCSO posts in Leeds, with West Yorkshire Police paying fully for 100 additional roles and other agencies paying for around 20.

Now the council has confirmed it is making a £1m contribution to the overall costs.

The authority’s decision-making Executive Board will debate the matter in more detail at its next meeting.

Councillor Blake said: “PCSOs provide vital services that are highly valued by our local communities.

“That is why we are setting out plans to provide an exceptional level of funding for PCSOs in comparison to our regional neighbours. “By working closely with Mark Burns-Williamson, we have secured a deal which means that the number of PCSOs in the city will actually increase from the current number.

“On top of that...additional PCSOs will be provided by the PCC in response to specific need.”

Mr Burns-Williamson previously stated that “although negotiations are ongoing, we anticipate Leeds district will continue to have in excess of 200 PCSOs into the next year”.

Across the West Yorkshire region, there will be 565 PCSOs in the next financial year.

Announcing the updated numbers last month, Mr Burns-Williamson said: “Continuing the recruitment of police officers and protecting Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) is crucial for the frontline and safeguarding resources as far as possible.”

He added that the recent small increase in the police precept element of council tax bills - equating to around £4 per household - “will ensure Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) numbers will be protected at the current level of 565 throughout West Yorkshire despite an estimated £1million reduction in partner funding across the county, due to their budgets being heavily squeezed”.

The precept increase will also “help towards paying for the recruitment of the police officers over the next year,” he said.

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