PCSOs will be fewer in Bognor Regis

District commander Justin Burtenshaw
District commander Justin Burtenshaw
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Numbers of police community support officers around Bognor Regis and Chichester are to drop by nearly a third.

The complement of the neighbourhood policing force is to be cut from 35 to 26 from July. Neighbourhoods will also lose their familiar officers from recent years.

But Chief Inspector Justin Burtenshaw, Sussex Police’s commander for the two districts, said those that remained would be able to do much more policing.

“PCSOs came in about 12 years ago. They were designed so that every place should have one, whether there was any crime or not,” CI Burtenshaw told the annual meeting of Bognor Regis electors.

The need for Sussex Police to examine its work because of funding cuts meant the crime-tackling abilities of PCSOs had been assessed.

“The PCSOs we will have left will have a lot more skills than they have got now,” he said. “They are not allowed to take statements, they cannot investigate crimes and they cannot input crimes on our system at the moment.

“In future, they will turn up and be able to follow through investigations from the start to the finish.

“They are also not going to be based in one area. We will have PCSOs the same as we have PCs - where the problems are.”

He pledged matters like the street community in Bognor would remain a high priority.

CI Burtenshaw said the PCSO changes mirrored those that had happened with PCs and Sergeants some 15 months ago. The removal of their geographic limits had been a success with £50,000 of heroin and cocaine destined for Bognor and Littlehampton seized and a £1m a year cannabis factory in Chichester raided.

Sgt Christian Thomas also spoke about the changes at Bersted’s electors’ meeting last week. Cllr Jim Holton hoped the Trees Estate would keep police patrols. “It’s often nice to see a police car going round proving there’s a presence to be seen,” he said.