Several police community support officers in Wrexham are moving ‘up’ to join the police, meaning there is a temporary gap in the PCSO numbers covering Wrexham town centre.
Eight PCSOs are effectively out of action, with maternity leave and progression from the ranks of PCSO to joining the police being given as reasons for the gap. This is contrary to some incorrect anecdotal reports that have described the loss as a permanent and deliberate cut back.
Inspector Powell told us, “We have lost a big number of PCSOs as they have resigned to join the police, there is a recruitment process that is going to kick in towards the end of the summer and there are training dates in the autumn. So, we have had to restructure a little bit how we do business.”
The overall usual sixteen strong quota has been roughly halved, and as a result a method of cover has been arranged to ensure the town centre has PCSO and police cover it needs. Wrexham town centre does not have its own ward, so other allocations in Caia and Grosvenor wards are being adjusted to help cover the town centre itself.
Insp Powell said: “I have seen a document saying the town centre has lost it’s five PCSOs, and it has not. What happened was we lost so many from the Caia team that we had to restructure how we operated.
“Our establishment is going to be sixteen, so out of the eight or nine that we had left we had to say well we can’t have one in Caia and four in the town centre because it just does not balance.
“What we have done is staffed Caia, Offa and Rhosddu, because they all also cover the town centre, as they all cover the town centre.
“The operational decision was where will we get the best results, and where do we put our people.
“I decided the best way to achieve that in the short term until we get our replacements is that Caia would cover the Smithfield element of the town centre, Offa the Brynffynnon side, Grosvenor the top end of town so you have got that cover.
“We still have the two town centre community beat managers in there as well, and the town centre is still being policed by the PCSOs, but more on a directed basis as we don’t have enough people to go around until the recruitment process takes place.”
Citing an example of one day last week where there were multiple officers in the town centre, either on targeted or ‘floating’ patrols, one big name trader said things were ‘brilliant’ due to the actions of police which included a couple of arrests and some stop and searches.
Insp Powell added: “The new patrol teams are deploying on foot in to the town centre, and one day last week on top of the town centre team that was in there we put in two more people, and between them they had a couple of arrests, four or five stop searches and dealt with a couple of beggars. That is all in the space of the first four or five hours.
“In terms of what they are delivering it is massively really, and one shop manager spoke to us and said ‘you know what it has been brilliant today those two have done really well and made our day a lot better’, so you get that kind of feedback and it is quite clearly the right thing to do.”
“On top we have a couple of special constables who have just joined, and they are working in the town centre alongside others to get them trained up in how we police the town centre.”
A PCSO recruitment process is due to start shortly with a focus likely towards the eastern area that Wrexham comes under, and Insp Powell said anyone who is interested: “If they want to see what it is about, come and have a chat with some of them, come to the front counter we are in the middle of town and come and have a chat with some of the team and see what they do.”
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