South Yorkshire PCSOs could get bigger front-line policing role
Police community support officers (PCSOs) in South Yorkshire could take on a bigger front-line policing role if new plans are given the go-ahead.
A report to be considered by South Yorkshire Police Authority suggests PCSOs should become the "first line of contact" for the public.
This would free up regular officers for other duties, the report states.
The South Yorkshire Police Federation criticised the plan, saying officers and PCSOs should work together.
If the authority approves the proposal, PCSOs would be given the role of Local Beat Officers (LBOs) with responsibility for one or more beats.
The move would mean regular PCs could be "better utilised and make better use of their warranted powers and problem-solving abilities", the report suggests.
It recommends that PCSOs receive extra training to prepare them for their new role and responsibilities.
The South Yorkshire force could face "reputational risks" if regular PCs were no longer the first point of contact for members of the public, the report concedes, but it concluded that "service will not suffer and should actually improve".
David Crompton, South Yorkshire's new Chief Constable, said the recommendations were merely an attempt to match the duties of regular police officers and PCSOs with the powers they had.
The number of police officers and PCSOs in South Yorkshire would not be affected if the proposals were approved, said Mr Crompton.
"Nobody is being taken away from these areas. They will get exactly the same sort of coverage they have done," he said.
PCSOs were "the glue that sticks neighbourhood policing together", Mr Crompton added.
Jim Lucas, from the South Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file police officers, said he could not accept the proposal.
"What we don't want is for police officers to only turn up when someone needs either arresting or dealing with," said Mr Lucas.
"We don't want to be seen to be the bad guys. We've spent years and years with communities building up a relationship with the police."
South Yorkshire Police Authority will consider the proposal at a meeting on Friday.