Plastic or practical?: an evaluation into the role of PCSOs in South Wales Police and the Welsh Assembly’s decision to fund 500 new PCSOs to Wales

Prince, Antonia (2013) Plastic or practical?: an evaluation into the role of PCSOs in South Wales Police and the Welsh Assembly’s decision to fund 500 new PCSOs to Wales. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Research has shown that there is a big difference between crime reduction statistics and the fear of crime exhibited by the general public. The Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) was originally developed to build bridges between the Police Service and the public. Over the years this role has evolved to encroach on the role of the Police Officer to the detriment of the original objectives.
    This qualitative study examines the role of the PCSO specifically within the South Wales Police area. Questionnaires were employed to examine the perception the general public had of the PCSO role. Structured interviews were used to explore the feelings existing PCSO’s had towards their role.
    The Primary research questions are:-
    1. What is the role profile of a PCSO in South Wales Police and is this shared between PCSOs and members of the public in South Wales?
    2. Can the decision for the Welsh Assembly to fund the recruitment and training of 500 new PCSOs be justified within the current economic climate?
    3. Is there a significant drift from the original role of the PCSO and is this beginning to overlap with the purpose of the warranted officer?
    The study showed inconsistencies among the PCSO role description with different Police Services bestowing different powers on their PCSO’s. This in turn has created confusion within the PCSO fraternity but also amongst the public. Despite this there was support for the role of PCSO by the general public sampled which supports the Welsh Assembly Governments investment to date.
    The study showed that South Wales Police and the general public had similar attitudes towards the bridge building nature of the PCSO whilst the individual employees deemed themselves to be more junior enforcers. This discrepancy within the perceptions of the role causes some conflict and allows for the drift into the “mission” as stated by Crawford 2008.
    The study found support for the PCSO but also highlights that there is a great deal of work needed to ring fence the role. This in turn would protect the PCSO under its original objective of “Bridge Builder” and stop the evolution into “Junior Law Enforcer.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2014 14:41
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:34

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