The statement below is South Yorkshire Police's response to claims made by unions in relation to the PCSO review.
“At this stage of the PCSO review, no decisions have been made and it is disappointing the unions have chosen to issue inflammatory and inaccurate statements, which only serve to cause concern for our communities and the PCSOs themselves.
"To suggest any of the options would cause the police presence to disappear, or that it will affect the levels of criminality outside of office hours is completely misleading, as it ignores the fact that any reduction in PCSOs will see them replaced with police officers who, unlike PCSOs, can be deployed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
“The unions have been involved in this review from the outset. They are fully aware this is not a cost saving exercise and will see an enhanced neighbourhood policing function, providing the public with the service they have told us they would like to see.
“We have conducted extensive consultation with staff, stakeholders and most importantly our communities who have told us, consistently, what they want and eighty-five percent of this requires the powers of a police constable.
“Whilst we value the tremendous work our PCSOs do, the current balance, by which two-thirds of our neighbourhood teams are PCSOs, can never meet this need, no matter how hard they work.
“We certainly do not underestimate the potential impact some of the options being considered may have on individual PCSOs, but the needs of our communities have to come first.
“An average grade PCSO will earn £27,567, inclusive of the allowances they receive, compared to starting pay of a police constable of £20,456. A police officer will only earn more than a PCSO after four years’ service. When the additional training and pension costs are added police officers still remain less of a cost to the force than PCSOs, for their first two years’ service.
“We hope to continue this review in a constructive manner, but the public should be reassured that any decisions we make will be in their best interests and reflective of what they have told us they want.”
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