Stoke & Staffordshire

Staffordshire PCSOs to wear stab vests from Monday

Police community support officers (PCSO) in Staffordshire will have to wear stab vests from Monday.

Staffordshire Police's Unison branch has stated a majority of members accepted it, but said some were "very, very reluctant" to wear body armour.

They do not want barriers between them and communities they work in, it said.

Chief Constable Mike Cunningham has said the force believes it can issue the vests with a "minimal impact on how the public perceive" PCSOs.

The move was approved by the police authority in June 2010, when the force said it needed to embark on an individual measurement programme.

'No adverse effect'

Speaking at the time, Mr Cunningham said there was no suggestion that the county's PCSOs were "at any greater risk" and assaults upon them remained very rare.

He added: "They are not deployed in confrontational roles, and we have no plans to change that."

Mr Cunningham said the force believed it could issue the vests with "no adverse effect on job satisfaction for our staff".

David Pearsall, chair of Staffordshire Police Authority, has said: "Following liaison with other forces, we are reassured that their wearing the vests will have little, if any, impact on how they are regarded by or interact with members of the public."

Michael Shepherd from Unison said: "It was only with the increasing risk that they've [members have] changed their minds.

"But there are still some very, very reluctant to wear body armour.

"They don't want barriers between them and the people, the communities they work in, the schools, the community centres, the faith and religious groups they deal with."

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