Plans to axe police community support officers (PCSOs) in the West Midlands could be a serious threat to public safety and will spell the end of community policing as we know it, Unite has warned.
The warning comes as the West Midlands police force pushes ahead with plans to make significant cuts to the workforce which will see it shrink to the smallest size in its history in the face of catastrophic government funding cuts.
PCSOs are in the firing line with the numbers of officers across the West Midlands slashed by nearly 82 per cent, leaving just 119 officers in post by 2020. 999 emergency call handler numbers will also be cut, prompting the public safety warning from Unite. A total of 2,500 jobs will be cut by 2020.
Unite, which represents police staff, is calling for an urgent re-think to safeguard neighbourhood policing in the West Midlands.
“Cuts have consequences – there is no way a police force can make cuts of this magnitude without it impacting on public safety,” said Unite national officer Fiona Farmer.
“This is a terrible blow for communities in the West Midlands who are being forced to bear the brunt of the government’s reckless police budget cuts,” she added.
“West Midlands police has lost £126 million in government funding in the last 5 years and is expected to see further budget cuts of £130 million by 2020,” Farmer went on to say. “What is being proposed to policing in the West Midlands is deeply concerning and should sound alarm bells.
“We condemn these Tory cuts in the strongest possible terms which will also place an unbearable burden on the remaining workforce who will be forced to pick up the pieces. The government needs to re-think its police budget cuts which are a serious risk to policing and ultimately community safety.”