The latest policing statistics published by the UK Government have shown that claims by the Welsh Government that they achieved their manifesto pledge of 500 additional Police Community Support Officers around Wales are wide of the mark.
The number of PCSOs have been declining since September 2013 to the point whereby the Welsh Government is effectively using their budget to offset cuts being implemented by Westminster.
Figures for 31 March 2015 show that Welsh Police forces employ 986 PCSOs. That is a reduction of 114 since March 2014 and 142 fewer than when numbers were at their peak in September 2013.
Further examination of the figures reveal that in March 2011 there were 686 PCSOs working in Welsh Police Forces. This grew to 1,128 by September 2013, thanks to the Welsh Government’s investment. That means that even with the additional 18 PCSOs working for the British Transport Police the growth in numbers as a result of Welsh Government funding was 460, not the 500 claimed by Ministers.
However, the Welsh Liberal Democrats Social Justice Spokesperson, Peter Black, has expressed a new concer, that instead of adding value through their investment the Welsh Government is effectively using their funds to mitigate wider UK cuts and that despite their additional spending the number of PCSOs on patrol in our local communities is continuing to fall.
Commenting on the figures, Mr. Black said: "I applaud the Welsh Government for their initiative in funding these extra PCSOs. They have certainly made a difference in many communities around Wales. However, we need to be realistic about what was actually funded and note that the pledge to put 500 extra PCSOs on the beat was not achieved, albeit the Welsh Government missed their target by just 40.
"My concern now is that the money being put into this initiative by Welsh Ministers is no longer adding value, but instead effectively subsidising their UK counterparts. Policing is not a devolved matter so any investment by the Welsh Government needs to achieve specific and quantifiable outcomes.
"We are now using the Welsh pound to slow down the rate of decline in the numbers of PCSOs. That is fine if that is the agreed objective, but we can no longer pretend that Labour’s manifesto pledge is delivering what was envisaged at the time, if it was ever delivered at all."