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Thread: Babies on the Beat
08-13-07, 02:14 PM #1
Babies on the Beat
Babies on the beat: Two 16-year-olds are recruited as community bobbies
Two 16-year-olds have been recruited as police community support officers with the authority to detain and question suspects. The pair, just out of school, will join foot patrols from a 'busy' police station. The move by Thames Valley Police has triggered a row about public safety and allegations that forces - and the Government - are trying to "police on the cheap".
Many other forces said today that they would not employ PCSOs under the age of 18, although Humberside Police admitted they had a 17-year-old PCSO on the beat. A force spokesman claimed policy stated that 16-year-olds could be hired "at the discretion of the Chief Officer". The Thames Valley force teenagers are two years too young to join the regular police force. If they were offenders, they would be tried in juvenile rather than adult courts.
Two 16-year olds have been recruited as police community support officers with the authority to detain and question suspects.
Yet they will have a string of powers, including the right to detain offenders, stop and search under terror laws, issue penalty notices for disorder and stop vehicles.
They would also be required to confiscate alcohol from under 18s. Thames Valley Police insisted the pair of teenagers had been given the job because they had the necessary skills.
"We have recruited these people because they demonstrated the skills that we need," said the spokesman. "They bring experience of being able to interact with the public, especially young people. If you are good enough you are old enough."
The development is the latest controversy to hit PCSOs, dubbed Blunkett's Bobbies after the Home Secretary who created them - but now being branded Blunkett's Babies. Full-time police must be at least 18, but there is no minimum for PCSOs. Jan Berry, chairman of the 139,000-strong Police Federation, said 16-year-olds did not have the skills to go on the front line. "To expect someone so young to put on a police uniform and patrol the streets is a few steps too far," she said. "It puts pressure on them as they have neither the maturity or experience to deal with situations they are likely to confront. This means they are more likely to let down their colleagues and the public."
Federation officials claim Labour is deliberately replacing full-time officers with cheaper PCSOs to save money. Support officers cost the taxpayer at least £10,000 a year less.
Though PCSOs have the power to seize alcohol from under-age drinkers, it is understood the young recruits will not enter pubs in the course of their duties.
One Federation official pointed out that, technically, they could not deal with a disturbance in a cinema if a certificate 18 film was being shown. Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "We want to see as many police and PCSOs as possible. But they must be able to do the job and have the confidence of colleagues and the public. "There are important ways for young people to contribute to their communities, but recruiting 16-year-olds to frontline policing puts them and those around them at risk. "It defies common sense and speaks volumes about the Government's reckless approach to public safety."
But sources at Thames Valley admitted the force is under huge Government pressure to reach targets on the recruitment of PCSOs and could lose funding if it failed to do so. Other forces around the country said they would refuse to employ PCSOs aged under 18. A spokesman for Sussex Police said he "couldn't imagine" that his force would recruit anyone so young and that no one aged 16 was working as a PCSO in the counties it covered. Police in Lancashire, Northumbria, Kent, Hampshire, London, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Cleveland and Durham also said they did not employ anyone under 18 as a PCSO.
"This is a decision made at the interview stage because a lot of the work they do is based on life experiences, and when you're under 18 you haven't got that much," a spokesman for the Lancashire force said.
Northumbria Police said: "Part of their job is to seize alcohol from under 18s so it would be inappropriate for a 16-year-old to be in possession of something they are not allowed to have."
Warwickshire Police said: "Anyone wanting to become a PCSO can apply on their 18th birthday, but not before then."
Humberside Police was one of the few forces to come forward and say it also had a policy where 16-year-olds could apply to be a PCSO in their area.
A spokeswoman said: "Our policy is that 16-year-olds can apply to be a PCSO; however, it's at the discretion of the Chief Officer as to whether it would be considered and pursued.
"The youngest PCSO we have currently is seventeen-and-a-half years old."
Thames Valley PCSOs earn £17,000-£20,000, depending on the hours they work. A full PC starts at £21,000, rising to £33,000.
The force's extraordinary decision was revealed by a local Police Federation official. In an e-mail to colleagues around the country, Jay Williams said: "We are informed that risk assessments have been conducted and the force are aware that in law they are children and this presents some restrictions. "I would be grateful if you would contact me if any of your forces have recruited PCSOs of this age and your experiences of how these have been managed."
The civilian officers were introduced by David Blunkett in 2003 to be a reassuring, visible presence on the street.
They have only a fraction of the training given to police - an initial course of just five weeks compared to 19. A recent official report raised concerns over their performance, citing cases of PCSOs fighting each other, eating and shopping while on duty and struggling with simple tasks. The number of PCSOs is set to soar over the next year. Eight of the 43 forces in England and Wales expect to be recruiting more support officers than police by 2008.
Daren't really comment on this right now except to say - where has common sense gone?Never approach a bull by the front, a horse from behind, or an idiot from any direction.
08-13-07, 04:55 PM #2Do not war for peace. If you must war, war for justice. For without justice there is no peace. -me
We are who we choose to be.
R.I.P. Arielle. 08/20/2010-09/16/2012
08-13-07, 05:22 PM #3
thats a dumb idea LIABILITYLAW ENFORCEMENT HELPING"PERPS" SLIP DOWN STAIRS SINCE 1766!
08-13-07, 05:23 PM #4
oh and if they tried to stop me i would laugh and walk awayLAW ENFORCEMENT HELPING"PERPS" SLIP DOWN STAIRS SINCE 1766!
08-13-07, 06:43 PM #5
Sounds interesting. Hopefully they'll do a good job and not start power tripping...Calm Like A Bomb...
“A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”
08-13-07, 06:51 PM #6
Only in England could they think up something as stupid as that who takes notice of kids playing dress upPublic conscience message board
post on a board with a heart.
08-14-07, 03:26 AM #7
The whole idea of PCSO's gets me mad! They can detain using reasonable force? How? No baton, No CS and No cuffs = No chance.
It is policing on the cheap as 2 PCSO's = 1 Cop, in wages. I'd rather have half the numbers with twice the skills.To be born an Englishman, is to be a winner in the Lottery of Life.
I've Talked the Talk and I've Walked the Walk, now I Sit the Sit!
It's not until you look at an Ant through a magnifying glass on a sunny day, that you realise just how often they burst into flames for no reason!
08-14-07, 03:33 AM #8
Sounds like Police Explorers, only with some authority.Former member of the LNC
Will take verbal abuse for spare change
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08-14-07, 10:32 AM #9
Last time I went into the local nick on a day shift I counted 13 PCSO's sat in the office.(Out there re-assuring the community, NOT!)
The shift strength for the nick that day was 6.(That's pretty good too)
In this county they can't even detain, chief hasn't authorised that power.(the expresion Chocolate fireguards comes to mind)the sole advantage of power is that you can do more good.
( Baltasar Gracian )
08-14-07, 12:16 PM #10
do they get a firearm, nevermind the real police don't even get one.
"A strong man stands up for himself. A stronger man stands up for others."
The old sheriff was attending an awards dinner when a lady commented
on his wearing his sidearm. "Sheriff, I see you have your pistol. Are you
expecting trouble?" "No Ma'am. If I were expecting trouble, I would have
brought my rifle."
(just stole this one hope you don't mind)
08-14-07, 12:59 PM #11
that is the stupidest thing i have ever heardhttp://www.allpoetry.com/Grunts%20Girl
We dallied under
Vine maples and sapling alders
Searched for lady slippers
Found blackberry riots and
An old skid road
Brought ghost ferns and
Hollows filled with
While waves wrapped
Intricate lacings of weeds
'Round mule spinners
His cyanotic eyes
Were hard enough to make
The sun turn tail and
Tender enough to attract me
To his world of illusion
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