First Minister & Police and Crime Commissioner joins Wrexham police on the beat
First Minister Mark Drakeford joined police officers on the beat in Wrexham today to listen to their experiences and also to see how the Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) funded by the Welsh Government can help keep communities safe
The First Minister had been invited to join officers on the beat by Wrexham Police Station.
Earlier this year the Welsh Government announced an extra £3.7m to fund an additional 100 PCSOs across Wales to tackle crime and support communities.
The additional 100 PCSOs brings the total funded by the Welsh Government to 600, with an extra 20 in North Wales.
Wrexham.com asked the First Minister about the PCSO funding, noting it was in his manifesto under ‘safer communities’, and asked why he sees the link between the two, with some critical of the role of PCSOs compared to Police Officers.
Mr Drakeford replied, “It was a top manifesto commitment for us. PCSOs are the interface between the public and the more formal powers that a fully trained police officer will have. I think it works very well in most parts of Wales, they genuinely are the people who people get used to seeing. When they work in particular neighbourhoods, they become familiar with the area, they know the issues that matter to people and people in the area become familiar with them as well.”
“In some communities, there can be a bit of a hesitation in relations with the police themselves, but if you get to know the person who’s always walking around when you get to see them, it’s a different sort of relationship.”
“I think when it works best, it’s when people take a problem solving approach, the PCSO is not about just reporting what they see to somebody else, or somebody else to do something about it. They are people who actually get stuck into the things that concern people and help them to find solutions to them – so those things don’t escalate and become bigger problems and take up a lot more time and energy from the police themselves or from other public agencies as well.”
We asked the First Minister about his ‘beat’ around the town centre this morning and what he had learned, “Loads – which is always really nice, a bit about the changing challenges of the pandemic itself, changing nature of the demands on the police.
“Mental health is a huge problem and has been exacerbated for many people by the pandemic. So police officers end up on the front line of that quite often and moreso during the pandemic.”
“For me it was really interesting just hearing about the multicultural nature of Wrexham now, we met a very lively group of ladies from Portugal. Did I know there was a Portuguese community in Wrexham? Maybe not. We were talking about some of the challenges that we have faced trying to persuade people from some of those communities to register as part of the settled status scheme.
“We tend to have a rather benign view, we’re lucky enough still that if a public authority approaches you, they’re quite likely to be wanting to do something helpful to you. Whereas some communities in other parts of the world, their experience is very different.”
“We have had some experience of that, that you’re trying to contact communities and the reaction you get is if the government is interested in you there must be trouble. We’ve been just talking about ways in which we’ve been able to overcome that, working through schools, where those communities build up a relationship and then police services can help to be part of that.”
Later the First Minister said: “I want to thank the officers I’ve met today in Wrexham for sharing their experiences with me, and for the important and valued work they do every single day to keep us all safe. In particular I want to thank them and all their colleagues for their work during the pandemic, and I pay tribute to their dedication.
“Policing is an important part of our communities, and having officers on the ground who are part of those communities and know them well is vital.
“This is why the Welsh Government is investing in funding PCSOs. They provide a vital link between our neighbourhoods and police services and play an important role in keeping our communities safe.”
Police Community Support Officers work with police officers and share some, but not all of their powers. Some of the things PCSOs support frontline policing with are stopping speeding outside our schools, reporting vandalism or reducing anti-social behaviour.
Inspector Luke Hughes of Wrexham Police station said: “I am grateful to the First Minister for attending Wrexham today and joining PS Evans on patrol in our town centre.
“Wrexham is certainly now starting to leave behind the reputation that it obtained a number of years ago. It is no longer as the media described it, which even then was unfair and distracted from what our historic and proud town had to offer.
“Recently, and with the support of the PCC’s office we have secured a great deal of funding which will be reinvested locally. My aim is to increase the visible police presence in the centre of the town and with the addition of five new PCSO to the local neighbourhood team we will certainly be able to do that. Their presence will contribute to the growing sense of security in the town by day and at night.
“I would urge the local community to be proud of what has been achieved locally; international interest and investment in our football club being just a few things. Don’t contribute or listen to the negative comments I see on social media. Come and visit the town over the festive period and realise that we still have a great town centre, one to be proud of and one that will continue to go from strength to strength. If you believe in Wrexham, then it will once again become the town you want it to be.”
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Dunbobbin was also ‘on the beat’ today alongside the First Minister, Mr Dunbobbin said, “Strengthening neighbourhood policing was a key priority in my manifesto when I was elected in May this year and forms the bedrock of my Police and Crime Plan which sets the blueprint for policing North Wales.
“Police Community Support Officers have an important role in ensuring that our communities benefit from visible policing, providing reassurance for the public and gathering intelligence on the ground to tackle serious and organised criminality.
“I am grateful to the Welsh Government in general and the First Minister in particular for playing their part by funding an extra 100 PCSOs across Wales.
“I am delighted that North Wales is getting 20 additional PCSOs, keeping people and our communities safe, responding to key concerns that people have expressed. It’s massively important to people’s wellbeing.”
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