Leighton Andrews, Minister for Public Services
The report of the Universities Police Science Institute (UPSI) into the role and effectiveness of the additional 500 Community Support Officers on the streets of Wales has been published today – and can be accessed on the Welsh Government website.
The research shows that, at a time when the UK Government is cutting back on police funding leading to officer numbers declining in England, Wales is not showing the same level of decline. The additionality principle we attached to this project has been that there should be 500 more officers on the street than there would have been without this funding. The research suggests this principle is working, and that the public has noticed the maintained police presence in Wales.
The report does not suggest these additional officers have had an impact on any reduction in crime figures, but this was never the intention. There are far too many variables which have an impact on crime figures to be able to attribute any reductions to a single initiative. However, I was pleased to note that the research suggests our additional officers are visible on our streets and that they are meeting the public’s expectations by dealing with low-level crime and anti-social behaviour. This was one of the main drivers behind this project – to add a visible police presence which would help to reassure the public.
Although we made it clear from the very beginning of this project that police operational independence in deciding where and how to deploy these additional officers was paramount, we indicated we would like to see some of them deployed in our most deprived communities. There is some evidence to suggest that CSOs are providing an additional police presence in these areas. The research suggests that operational independence of the police made the assessment challenging because of the diverse ways these additional officers were deployed and the tasks and responsibilities they were given.
I commend the report to Members.