02 February 2006

NI: Civilian police plans 'likely to go through'


02/02/2006 - 19:28:29

The introduction of Police Community Support Officers in Northern Ireland moved a step closer tonight.

The uniformed civilian support staff have already been introduced in England and Wales amid some controversy.

After extensive debate in Belfast the Northern Ireland Policing Board has agreed in principle to the recruitment of PCSOs in the North.

They said their agreement was subject to there being “no variation between the vetting criteria for membership of the PCSO and those which govern regular police officers”.

Board chairman, Professor Sir Desmond Rea, said they were guarding against “any potential for PCSOs to become a route into policing for paramilitaries".

At the same time the Board agreed the rolling out of four new areas for the recruitment of more part time police officers following the evaluation of a pilot recruitment scheme of 159 officers on four other areas in 2003.

The Patten Report on the future of policing said the Part Time Police Reserve should be enlarged to 2,500 officers, with additional recruits to come from those areas in which there were few or no reservists at all.

Sir Desmond said that since the publication of Pattern there had been developments in the delivery of community policing, the deployment of part-time officers and the introduction in England and Wales of PCSOs.

He said PCSOs were a new initiative in policing and as part of the board’s discussions members had considered whether they would be suitable for the province.

Their decision to recruit more part-time officers went some way to giving police commanders an additional resource in the short term to meet community policing needs on the ground “while allowing the arrangements and legislation for the recruitment of PCSOs to be quickly progressed,” said Sir Desmond.

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