If you define a police officer as someone who goes out in public wearing a uniform then a PCSO could be regarded as a police officer. However, it would also follow that bus drivers, nurses and dustmen are police officers if it’s only what it does or doesn’t say on the uniform that is different.
You get 3 PCSOs for the price of two fully qualified Police Officers, partly because they have 10 weeks training instead of six months. They are widely derided within the Police Force, seen as Sir Ian Blair’s attempt to get visible policing on the cheap.
Perhaps there was another motive. Profit.
Whilst you would never get away with hiring out fully trained Police Officers to private organisations for months on end, the unloved PCSOs are turning out to be a profitable venture in some surprising places.
Oxford Brookes University has taken on two PCSOs at a cost of around £120,000 to patrol its campus. Given that they could have hired a pair of security guards directly from the job centre for around £16,000 a piece and kitted them out with a uniform themselves, I have to wonder why they were prepared to pay so much extra for a ‘pretendy’ policeman?
Oxford University recently spent another £120,000 on a similar pair of ‘pretendy’ policemen, but have not renewed their contract – perhaps their cast offs have been palmed onto Oxford Brookes?
Still, patrolling the dreaming spires must seem like the ace beat compared to the latest ‘lend-lease’ dreamt up by financially pressed Chief Constables.
Three PCSOs are being sent to patrol the grounds of the two local mental hospitals – in a never ending search for missing patients, funded by the Mental Health Trust.
Insp Andy Storey, said officers were called to the Littlemore hospital at least once a week following reports of missing or suicidal patients.
“They will get to know the patients and the staff and they will hopefully have some knowledge about an individual and where they might have gone, if they go missing.”
– and when they do find one? They have no powers to arrest him, they have no nursing training to calm him, what exactly are they supposed to do that makes them so desirable in the grounds of a mental hospital?