Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “People tell me they want two things from neighbourhood police. They want visibility and engagement – which the PCSOs are good at. But they also want the power to enforce and arrest – which requires police officers. Strong neighbourhood teams need the right balance of both PCSOs and police constables.
“However, the erosion of neighbourhood teams and the loss of neighbourhood police constables in the recent past had led to the role of PCSOs becoming inconsistent and too few police constables available at critical times of the day and the week. Now that neighbourhood teams are being restored, I support the Chief Constable’s decision to review the role of the PCSO and get the right balance of engagement and enforcement.
“The current ratio of PCSOs to PCs in neighbourhood teams is two to one. By the end of this gradual process the ratio will have reversed with two PCs to one PCSO. This is a more effective balance.
“These extra PCs (73) are in addition to those funded by the increase in council tax, who will be in post later this year (30).
“I have been assured that dedicated neighbourhood PCs will not be routinely pulled out on other duties. I have stressed that the public will expect them to get out of their cars and go on foot patrol.
“Some PCSOs have also applied to become PCs and those who are successful will, wherever possible, stay in their neighbourhoods as familiar figures.
“This careful rebalancing will take place over the next couple of years and will be a new era for neighbourhood policing. There will be greater visibility and engagement and better enforcement at the times when each community wants it. PCSOs will also have stronger supervision and more targeted tasking to enable the right resources to be deployed within communities.
“I have asked the Chief Constable to report regularly on the new arrangements to my Public Accountability Board.”