I am writing to express my concern about the proposed loss of more than half of the 340 PCSOs across Devon and Cornwall.
I appreciate that Devon and Cornwall Police is investing more money into the police by using reserves and raising council tax, however, I believe it is quite wrong and deeply misguided to cut the number of PCSOs.
Newspaper reports indicate that large towns and cities will probably retain their PCSOs, but this leaves rural areas and smaller towns without this completely vital resource.
In Ottery St Mary Maria Clapp has been the face of policing for more than a decade. She was invaluable even in the days of the police being properly funded and there being a police front desk with a sergeant and officers based there.
Now that the station front desk has closed and Ottery based officers have been made redundant, her role is absolutely vital. She is the only face of local policing that any of us see.
Maria maintains a constant high profile presence in the town and surrounding villages of the parish. Residents see her each day going about her business, sorting out problems relating to anti social behaviour and troublesome traffic problems, including speeding and inconsiderate parking.
Maria is extremely popular with residents as they know she will help with any issues willingly and cheerfully. Many queries are referred to her and she handles them with diplomatic quiet efficiency.
This view is shared by Ottery St Mary Town Council, which also relies on its PCSO heavily and appreciates her input into a range of issues that aid the day to day running and forward planning of parish activities.
Your (speedy and appreciated) response to my Twitter enquiry about community wardens, which may replace the role of some PSCOs, did nothing to reassure me. As you stated, these roles will be voluntary and are not even scoped out yet. They cannot even come close to replacing the role of the PCSO.
I cannot emphasise enough that Ottery St Mary’s PCSO is a highly valued policing resource in the town and wider parish, and I urge you to retain her role.
I look forward to hearing a reassurance on this.