Headlines: September 24th, 2002

Following the launch of the Metropolitan Police Service’s Community Support Officer scheme, it is planned to recruit more than 1,000 officers across the UK. They will play a complementary role to police officers in tackling disorder and anti-social behaviour and carrying out routine patrols to increase visible policing and provide reassurance to the public. They will also free up police officers for fighting crime.Although there was unease amongst some chief constables and members of police authorities, many of whom thought that community support officers are diluting the police service, over half the police forces have agreed to adopt the scheme. An assurance has been given that the support officers are not ‘policing on the cheap’ and they will not replace police officers. They are an additional resource aimed at further reducing crime and the fear of crime. Further funding will be made available to forces over the next three years to ensure support officers become a firm part of the future policing plans in the UK.

A major concern about the scheme is that the Police Reform Act will give powers for support officers to detain people for up to 30 minutes. Because of this concern it has been agreed that the power of detention will first be trialled by six forces to identify problems in exercising the new powers.

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