Buy one PCSO and get another free

PUBLISHED: 12:10 07 February 2008 | UPDATED: 12:57 06 May 2010

A RETAIL park has two Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) of their own while villages elsewhere in the district are battling to get just one according to an irate councillor. At last month s full St Albans District Council meeting, London Colney cou

A RETAIL park has two Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) of their own while villages elsewhere in the district are battling to get just one according to an irate councillor.

At last month's full St Albans District Council meeting, London Colney councillor Chris Flynn revealed the situation at the Colney Fields shopping park in the village and branded it extremely unfair.

He raised the issue following comments from other councillors about the situation in Redbourn and Wheathampstead where they have been forced to share a PCSO after the parish councils refused to match fund £15,000 with the police for an additional appointment.

The police confirmed that they normally had two PCSOs based at the Colney Fields site but said they were recruiting for a new officer following the departure of one of them. The PCSOs are employed there on a match-funding scheme whereby the shops pay for one officer and the police fund the other but the officers have no power to arrest people.

Cllr Flynn maintains it is wrong to give a shopping park such coverage when there are other areas in the district which are short of PCSOs.

He said: "About 60 per cent of crime happens in Colney Fields Park. But police officers are called if somebody steals so much as a Mars bar even though there are two PCSOs there.

"If they put in proper security in their car parks they might not have so much crime. It's not just the tax payer in London Colney that's paying for this, its tax payers across the district who are paying for it."

Cllr Flynn also complained about a lack of police presence in London Colney village itself and said people were complaining to him about the situation.

He said: "I generally think it is a pretty bad show. We used to have a police station here with regular hours and we used to have dedicated police officers. But now there is no continuity in any of the villages.

"A lot of complaints are about police presence in the village. People have got to either ring Hatfield or they have to go down to the police station and pick up the phone on the wall outside."

Cllr Flynn also said at the council meeting that he was recently told by the police that London Colney village, Colney Heath, Bricket Wood and Park Street were sharing a PCSO because one of the team had left.

But the police refuted the claim this week and said there were two PCSOs designated for London Colney and Colney Heath, separate from the shopping park, and that the St Stephens ward had its own PCSO.

The spokesperson said that one of the two PCSOs covering London Colney and Colney Heath had left but a replacement had been put in place immediately.

He also maintained that the PCSOs patrolling the shopping park had responsibility for providing extra coverage to London Colney village.

He said: "The PCSOs who patrol the shopping park are having a positive impact on crime levels. Their presence not only deters would-be criminals, but also acts as a reassuring presence to local shoppers and businesses. This feeling is shared by the businesses who pay and support this scheme.

"It is important to remember that PCSOs have the power to detain suspects, build up intelligence which has led to the arrest of numerous offenders and are in close and frequent contact with regular officers.

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