Trade Union UNISON has welcomed news that funding for Police Community Support Officers is to be kept for the next two years, after fears all of Lancashire's officers would lose their jobs early next year.
Police bosses made it clear that all PCSO’s would have been vulnerable to redundancy if the ring-fenced funding for them was to disappear employed by Lancashire Constabulary (see news story). The Lancashire Police Branch of UNISON had been served with a Section 188 Notice under the Trade Union Labour Relations Act 1992 back in October and has been campaigning widely since to retain current funding.
The original announcement provoked a storm of protest and some MPs were quick to challenge the plans to cut the officers, who provide vital community contact for the police.
“We are extremely happy today following the announcement in parliament to retain the funding stream," said Maureen Le Marinel, Branch Secretary of UNISON. It means that the majority of our PCSO colleagues will be safe from redundancy.
"I would like to thank my UNISON colleagues and all PCSO’s who have since late October been out lobbying Lancashire’s MP’s, Peers and Councils raising the awareness of what the effect will be.
"But most of all I would like to thank the communities of Lancashire who have backed our campaign and have taken action themselves by contacting their MP’s and signing our petition which has in excess of 11,500 signatures this is a fantastic result. Our campaign has seen a speech in the House of Lords by Lord Greaves, an Early Day Motion in Parliament, media coverage local, regional and national.
Let’s be clear," she added, "and leave no-one under the illusion that we believe that it is our campaign and our action with the support of our communities that has had a significant impact on this government and the Home Secretary taking the decision to keep the ring-fence."
Despite today's announcement, UNISON warned there was still more to do to try to ensure jobs were not lost, as the governments began to set out more details of its swingeing public spending cuts.
"This is the first stage of our campaign," says Maureen. "The second stage will be targeting Lancashire’s councils and other partners who ‘part fund’ some 170+ PCSO’s across Lancashire and we now want to see them make the right decision.
"If the external funding provided by local authorities, parish councils, schools and PCT’s is withdrawn then some PCSO’s will still be extremely vulnerable to redundancy and those areas were these either partly or fully funded PCSO’s work will lose the resource that they have fought with us to keep.
"So I would urge the public to ask their local authorities if their PCSO will remain or disappear and tell them they want them to remain.
"Our fight will continue but for now we welcome this news today.”