A Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) is an officer who works for the British police force. Although they do not have the powers of warranted arrest like other police officers, they are able to make citizens arrests if they suspect that a crime has been committed. They are mainly used to deal with petty crime within the community.
Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) aid in the policing of communities by being a uniformed presence on the streets of the United Kingdom, either on bike or on foot. The role of PCSOs is to act as a deterrent to antisocial behaviour such as vandalism, graffiti, theft and truancy. They also provide a quick point of contact for the public should they have a crime to report. PCSOs are also visible at major public events such as music concerts where they can be seen controlling the crowds. They also provide support for front-line policing but differ from the police in that they do not have the power of warranted arrest.
Most PCSOs work shifts split between day and evening work. The starting hours will depend on which police force you are working for, but most day shifts start at either 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. and last until 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. Evening shifts start at around 2 p.m. and last until 10 p.m., although on certain occasions, such as emergencies, staff may be asked to work past the required hours. Some police forces may require you to work a shift pattern that operates 24 hours a day, meaning night work will be necessary. Weekend work and shifts during bank holidays should also be expected.
Candidates for PCSO positions must be physically fit and be able to spend large amounts of time either on foot or cycle patrol. A fitness and medical test has to be passed before you will be allowed to work as a PCSO. Possession of a driving license is also advantageous, as from time to time PCSOs may be required to drive police vehicles. The minimum age to work as a PCSO is 18, and you must be a British or EU citizen.
Training takes place in the first three months of being accepted as a PCSO. The induction program takes the form of classroom-based seminars and includes topics such as first aid, patrolling skills, radio procedures, the role and duties of a PCSO and community awareness skills. Following this, PCSOs will then be familiarised with the police force they are working with.
According to Careers Advice, the starting salary of a PCSO is in the region of £16,000. With experience this can go up to £19,000, with salaries in London reaching up to £25,000 in 2010. Other conditions include a minimum of 21 days paid vacation a year, paid overtime and fully paid sick leave.