How Police Community Support Officer's short-lived job change cost villagers £15,000
A COMMUNITY Support Officer whose departure prompted the police to demand £15,000 from two parish councils to replace her, is back working in the same village. Redbourn s Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), Allison Dewar, transferred to Yorkshire po
A COMMUNITY Support Officer whose departure prompted the police to demand £15,000 from two parish councils to replace her, is back working in the same village.
Redbourn's Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), Allison Dewar, transferred to Yorkshire police in January but quickly decided that she wanted to return to the area.
But when she had handed in her notice, Herts Police told Redbourn and Wheathampstead Parish Councils that they would need to part-fund the cost of a new officer or share the remaining PCSO, Jo Merritt, who would then split her time between the two villages.
That caused outrage among local councillors but both villages reluctantly agreed to pay the £7,500 each because they feared the consequences of a cut in service.
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Redbourn district and parish councillor Tony Swendell said the fact that PCSO Dewar wanted to return was a deciding factor in the village coming up with the cash and that it was the condition to the parish council handing it over.
But he maintained that it was unfair for local residents to pay for policing through their parish council precept when they already paid towards the police through other taxes.
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Harpenden Neighbourhood Sergeant Lewis Ducket explained that Wheathampstead, Redbourn and Harpenden fell under the same umbrella when it came to PCSO funding.
Based on a number of factors the police used to determine PCSO deployment, he said that four officers were required in the area but that five were in place because Harpenden Town Council funded one for two years.
When the funding was withdrawn in 2006 the police avoided making redundancies but had always planned to bring the numbers back down to four when the opportunity arose unless more funding was provided.
Sgt Ducket said that if Redbourn and Wheathampstead shared a PCSO, the villages would be in line with all other wards in the district, none of which had an exclusive PCSO to themselves.
He said it was also comparable with the coverage in Harpenden where two of the PCSOs covered two residential wards each while one covered the town centre because of the higher work load associated.
Sgt Ducket added that St Albans District Council was one of only two of the 10 local authorities in Herts which did not contribute towards PCSO funding.