This week, Welsh forces will be celebrating the work of its Community Support Officers in a week long campaign called 'Those in Blue'.
The All Wales campaign will highlight to the public the great work of Community Support Officers (or Police Community Support Officers). The role has been an integral part of neighbourhood policing since 2003.
From day to day policing duties, to cases of exceptional good work, the week will give the public an insight into the efforts of Community Support Officers and the work they do in Welsh communities.
Community Support Officers (CSOs) inspire confidence on the streets of Gwent and are a vital link in the community. They strive to make our communities safer and stronger by performing one of the most demanding roles in the modern Police Force. CSOs can't make arrests and they don't carry handcuffs or other items carried by Police Officers. They rely on their ability to understand and communicate with some of the most challenging people in some of the most difficult situations.
Policing Lead for Community Support Officers across Wales, Deputy Chief Constable Pam Kelly explains: "CSOs play such a vital role in our communities. Every day I hear about the fantastic work they do and I know that communities value the service that they provide. Welsh Government fund more than half of the posts across the whole of Wales, I have no doubt that this funding combined with the commitment of our CSOs helps keep the Welsh communities safe."
"The role of a CSO is challenging yet rewarding, and is integral to providing a visible and reassuring presence in the communities, I am aware that many CSOs are a familiar face to many. Although CSOs do not hold the same powers as regular Police Officers, they still carry a great deal of responsibility, assisting not only in community engagement, but supporting regular Officers at major crime scenes and events."
Richard Lewis, Temporary Deputy Chief Constable of South Wales Police said: "This celebration and recognition of the work CSOs do across Wales is long overdue. The service they provide is a distinct one and no less important than that of Police Officers. CSOs have a different skill set and amongst other things they provide day to day reassurance and engagement with residents, a vital component of the work we do.
"Unlike some forces in England neighbourhood policing is still the bedrock of policing in Wales, and CSOs are at the heart of that. CSOs live and breathe their patch, they know their areas and the communities they serve. They are often best placed to see issues developing, prevent crimes happening on their patch and importantly, provide a recognisable presence locally.
"We value and respect their work and recognise that their dedication and commitment is essential as we all work together to reduce crime and harm in Wales.
Superintendent Robyn Mason, Dyfed-Powys Police lead for CSOs, said: "CSOs are an integral part of the Dyfed-Powys Police family. They are not only the eyes and ears in the community, but help to tackle the problems which can cause the most concern in our towns and villages.
"We have recently finished a public consultation on the role of CSOs and the feedback paints a positive picture. Most people tell us they know their local CSO at least by sight, and many know them by name. This Christmas CSOs will be a reassuring presence for some of the most vulnerable people living in our communities."
Temporary Chief Inspector Julie Sheard from North Wales Police said: "CSOs, who are supported by constables with enforcement capabilities, are one of a number of layers of policing that work to prevent, respond to and investigate crime.
"Here in North Wales they have established themselves as a fundamental part of our approach to community policing. They are a visible, uniformed presence on the streets and in our communities, helping to improve the quality of life and providing increased public reassurance whilst working with partners and community organisations."
Activity during the week in Gwent...
- Gwent Police will be hosting an All Wales workshop with representatives from across Wales. The workshop will discuss best practice, powers, the deployment of Community Support Officers and the vision for the future regarding CSOs.
- Community Support Officers from across Gwent will be Tweeting their experiences during the week, using the hashtag #tweetmyweek #thoseinblue. You can follow CSO Chris Wright #csowright (@gpebbwvale - Blaenau Gwent), CSO Jenna Price #csoprice (@gpystradmynach - Caerphilly) Ceri Vaughan #csovaughan (@gpchepstow - Monmouthshire), David Reynolds #csoreynolds (@gpcwmbran - Torfaen) and CSO Clare Nancarrow #csonancarrow (@gpmaindee - Newport)
- Chief Inspector for Caerphilly, Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent, Paul Staniforth and Chief Inspector for Newport and Monmouthshire David Morgan will be going out on patrol with CSOs in Blaenau Gwent and Newport - you can see their return to Neighbourhood Policing by visiting our Facebook and Twitter page during the week.
- On social media, we'll be profiling some of the excellent work of CSOs, including: A CSO who assisted in saving someone's life. CSO Alex Donne recently helped pull a woman to safety from a river in Gwent. CSO Claire Eyles who, like many other of our CSOs has helped train hundreds of school children basic First Aid. Our first Cyber CSO, CSO Natalie Evans, who started her new role this month, an award winning CSO, CSO Richie Davies, who has carried out Youth Projects in areas of high anti-social behaviour in Newport and another award winning CSO, CSO Linzi Nicholls, who not only has helped set up a successful PubWatch in Blaenau Gwent, she has helped highlight issues such as arson through poetry.
- On Wednesday 13th December, Pill Neighbourhood Policing Team will be taking part in a Day of Action starting at Pill Mill at 10am. The day will see our Neighbourhood Team, including Community Support Officers and partner agencies offer crime prevention and home security advice in the run up to Christmas which will focus on home security, vehicle security and keeping your property safe. We'll also have our new mini police on hand to help! Assistant Chief Constable, Rhiannon Kirk will be on patrol with the team, visiting: Francis Drive and Francis Close and the surrounding area, Courtabella Terrace and Courtabella Gardens, Potter Street and Castle Street. Officers will also be taking part in a litter pick in the area and visiting The Newport City Homes Pill Residents' Engagement Forum at the Community Hub, where they'll be providing advice and information for residents.
- In January and April 2017, a recruitment drive for new CSOs was launched in Gwent Police. There were 41 applicants in January and 206 in April that had to pass basic eligibility criteria before submitting a competency-based application form. Following on from this, applicants needed to complete an interview process as well as pre-appointment checks. 35 successfully appointed applicants then went on to complete an 8 week course (in July) covering: legislation, practical assessments as well as dealing with anti-social behaviour, conflict management and hate crime. On Friday 15th December 2017, following the April recruitment drive, 18 new CSOs will Pass Out after completing their training in Gwent Police.
- We'll also be highlighting some of the work of Community Support Officers throughout December to help the more elderly and vulnerable residents in our community.
More about Community Support Officers
CSOs work within neighbourhood policing teams helping to solve local issues by getting out and about in the community, meeting people and offering advice and support to people who live and work in the neighbourhood.
CSOs deal with minor offences and support front-line policing. They do not make arrests, conduct interviews, deal with prisoners or investigate serious crime.
As a Community Support Officer you can expect to:
- Be on patrol within your community, getting to know residents
- Support neighbourhood policing teams in solving local problems
- Make house visits to gather information and offer reassurance following a crime or incident
- Link in with key people in the community, such as the leaders of local groups and religions
- Protect crime scenes
- Collect CCTV evidence
- Provide crime prevention and personal safety advice
- Act as professional witnesses, attending court when needed
- Engage with young people, creating valuable relationships
Powers of a Community Support Officer includes:
- The power to require name and address for anti-social behaviour
- The power to require name and address for road traffic offences
- The power to disperse groups and remove persons under 16 to their place of residence
- The power to exclude a person from an area for a period of up to 48 hours, providing that authorisation has been granted by an Inspector
- The power to search for alcohol and tobacco
- The power to seize tobacco from a person aged under 16 and to dispose of that tobacco
- The power to require persons aged under 18 to surrender alcohol
- The power to remove abandoned vehicles
- The power to seize vehicles used to cause alarm
- The power to issue fixed penalty notices for littering