The role of a PCSO, or Police Community Support Officer, is relatively new in policing terms. As well as carrying out some of the duties of regular police officers, PCSOs have their own responsibilities and job roles too. Police forces across the country are recruiting PCSO staff from all walks of life and of all ages, so if it’s a job you’ve thought about doing in the past, read on to find out the basics.
Role of a PCSO
As the job title of Police Community Support Officer suggests, the role played by PCSOs is about supporting the local community, and providing an additional resource for the Police. PCSOs spent a lot of their time out and about in their local community, patrolling the streets, building relationships with community leaders, schools and youth groups, and working with community organisations such as neighbourhood watch. They might help the Police by gathering intelligence or interviewing people after a minor crime has been committed, visit schools to give talks to children about road safety or go into people’s homes to give advice on crime prevention strategies. In larger cities, PCSOs might help the police at large public events by keeping the public safe or directing traffic. PCSOs don’t have the power of arrest though, and will not get involved in dealing with any serious crimes.
Unlike joining the police, most forces do not ask for formal qualifications in order to apply to join the police as a PCSO. However, most will demand a good standard of written and spoken English, and basic skills in Maths might be useful too. Far more important are your personal qualities; PCSOs have to have a confident personality, the ability to deal with stressful situations, be a team player, be fit enough to spend their shifts on foot or working and have good attention to detail. PCSOs must undergo a DBS check into their police record. Having minor convictions in the past might not rule out being a PCSO completely, so it’s always best to be completely honest about anything in your past which might come up when the DBS checks are done. Anyone over the age of 18 can apply for a job as a PCSO, and the compulsory retirement age for all people working in the police is 65.
Salary and Shift Patterns
The salary for a PCSO is between £17,500 and £21,600 depending on seniority and experience. Most new recruits will start at the bottom of the salary scale. Most PCSO staff work full time, and on a shift pattern between 8am and midnight, seven days a week. Shift patterns are published well in advance to help PCSOs organise childcare or make other arrangements depending on their shifts. Most police forces will also accept part time working too, but it will depend on the vacancies available and the requirements of the police force at the time of applying. Most PCSOs undergo a five week intensive training programme, and then have more on the job training as they settle into their new roles.