‘Smoke and mirrors’ jibe in Leeds PCSO numbers row

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a senior opposition councillor has accused Leeds council bosses of using “smoke and mirrors” in an ongoing row over a shake-up of police community support officer (PCSO) numbers.

Andrew Carter, leader of the Conservative group, was speaking during yesterday’s executive board meeting at Leeds Civic Hall. The panel was told that new arrangements will see overall PCSO numbers in the city increase. But each ward will now have a minimum of three officers - down from five - with more assigned according to need in areas of high crime.

Councillor Mark Dobson, the council’s environment and housing boss, said the authority wanted to continue to show its “commitment” to a “vital” service. He admitted there would be “net losers and net gainers” but the overall approach was “pragmatic”.

However Coun Carter said the previous five per ward arrangement had been “working extremely well”. “The annoying part is that the police staffing budget is underspent by £3.5m,” he said. “It’s smoke and mirrors to a large degree.”

His Lib Dem counterpart Stewart Golton added: “PCSOs are the human facing aspect of the police. Every citizen has the right to feel the same amount of reassurance.”