Police Community Support Investigators take to the streets of Dorset

18 April 2018
Dorset Police has introduced Police Community Support Investigators (PCSIs) to better meet the demands of modern policing. 
The 31 PCSIs will be based out of stations in Poole, Bournemouth, Blandford, Weymouth, Ferndown, Wareham and Bridport and will mean Dorset Police is able to respond to the needs of victims much more effectively, enabling scheduled appointments to be made when initially contacting the Force. 
This new role is being introduced following public feedback that the Force did not always respond to crimes in a timely and efficient manner, where it had been established there is no immediate risk or danger. It will result in important face-to-face contact with the public after they have been the victim of a crime – something the public regularly feedback to the Force. 
On top of the initial nine weeks training for their former role as a police community support officer, the new PCSIs have been through a further eight-week intensive training programme involving four weeks of classroom learning and four weeks of on-the-job training, shadowing police constables. 
The investigators will attend appointments at a pre-agreed time and location to deal with incidents where there is lower threat, harm and risk, such as assaults, criminal damage, shed breaks, vehicle crime and harassment. They will record crimes, carry out the initial investigation, such as identification of CCTV and witness opportunities, take statements and provide reassurance and crime prevention advice to the victim. 
The project will also generate uplifts to teams dealing with cyber-crime, child sexual exploitation and sex offences, as well as other areas that generate significant demand. 
Assistant Chief Constable Julie Fielding said: “As has been seen in other parts of the country, policing numbers have reduced over the last five years and we must constantly evolve how we operate to ensure we best meet the needs of Dorset residents.
“This is an exciting time for our Police Community Support Investigators who have been recruited from our existing Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). They bring with them a range of skills and years of policing experience which will be very useful in their new roles. 

“We have been able to invest in increasing resources in areas where we experience significant demand by retraining and redeploying PCSOs from our neighbourhood policing teams, whilst still enabling them to carry out some of their more traditional responsibilities wherever and whenever it is appropriate in a more flexible role.
“Neighbourhood policing is still at the centre of everything we do in Dorset and we remain committed to supporting local communities who expect and deserve a visible policing presence. We will continue to have police officers and PCSOs working as part of our neighbourhood policing teams across the county.”
The introduction of the new role also creates a career path for PCSOs to progress into investigation roles – something that hasn’t been possible until now.  
PCSI Cheryl Belfield, of Dorset Police, said: “I’ve been a police community support officer now for eight years, but having the opportunity to progress my career within policing was an opportunity I jumped at. We all join policing to help people and in this new role, I can really put my problem solving and investigative skills into practice and have an even greater impact on supporting victims and vulnerable members of our community.”
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill said: “Now more than ever, we need to be making best use of available resources. Giving PCSOs an opportunity to diversify their careers is important if we are to retain skilled individuals with a solid understanding of local needs. But beyond this, with PCSIs taking on the initial investigatory work in relation to low threat crimes, our PCSOs will be better able to fulfil their core community engagement role while police officers will have more time to tackle high risk crimes in Dorset. 
“I am confident this will improve experiences of policing for residents and I am pleased that my decision to raise the precept will support ongoing work such as this to meet the changing demands we face.”

ACC Fielding continues: “Crime has changed and we must ensure our workforce reflects the modern demands we face. Increasingly these are complex and often hidden from public view such as online crime and child sexual exploitation, which are particularly impactive on victims. 

“We have been very honest and open with the public while making these changes and we will continue to ensure that through a flexible approach and efficient distribution of our resources we are able to continue to meet current challenges and demands.

“Neighbourhood policing as a whole is still part of every police officer and PCSO’s business, which includes response officers, local investigation staff and other operational officers.”

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