Brought in by then Home Secretary David Blunkett, police community support officers have at times been derided as “plastic police” who serve little or no purpose.
A few years ago, official figures showing that PCSOs solved less than one crime every four years were seized upon as proof that they were a waste of money.
Yet the reality is that the principal role of these recruits was never a crime-solving one – indeed, their powers were deliberately limited to maintain the distinction between them and police officers.
Instead they perform an important function by giving police the extra manpower needed to provide a visible presence on our streets, offering reassurance to residents and acting as a deterrent to criminals.
Good PCSOs – and there many of them in Leeds – play a vital role in dealing with low-level crime.
One major flaw in their introduction, however, was the fact that local authorities were obliged to provide a significant proportion of the funding for them.
As a result, the squeeze on council spending means there are now concerns that there won’t be sufficient money to maintain the current level of PCSOs.
It is testament to the manner in which these officers have now proved their worth that politicians such as Conservative group leader Andrew Carter are now adamant that this funding must be found and their numbers maintained.
United hero Bobby was key to glory years
BEFORE BOBBY Collins joined Leeds they were heading for the Third Division. By the time he left they were a major force in Europe and on their way to winning the First Division title.
If Don Revie was the brains behind that rise then Collins was its heart and soul – his tenacious drive instrumental in United’s stunning transformation.
It’s why news of Bobby’s passing at the age of 82 has been greeted with tributes from so many quarters.
Many fans won’t have been alive when the pocket-sized Scot was bossing the midfield at Elland Road – but they still recognise that without him Leeds’s glory years would never have happened.