I'm not one to bleat on about PCSO's having worked with some great and not so great people. I've posted only once on them, but the most recent Employment Tribunal involving PCSO Asad Saeed shows they are still flavour of the month with the press. I'm slightly peeved with the racist culprit being described as a policeman. Let's get it right he's not and wasn't, he was an unwarranted officer, a PCSO.
I usually steer away from posting on this subject, despite several years first hand experience of supervising community officers. I have numerous stories that would make your hair curl and no doubt make good press, but they shall remain with me. Stupid I am not. Suffice to say that I've just disciplined somebody for the first time ever in over 13 years and perhaps should have done the same last year to another staff member. Both would have been dismissed in a private sector job.
Supervision of community officers is something I've found very difficult. You can go out and patrol with them, but you police as a police officer and unless you went out and merely stepped back to observe, would never get a grasp of how they usually behave. When the cat's away the mice will play, and I've always thought some staff would turn it on when the sergeant is there, only to take the piss when he isn't. Police officers are the same, but are generally too busy with taskings and calls and can overall be trusted to get on with it.
From reading up on this case as best I can, we can assume these PCSO's driving about in vans were on security patrols in Westminster. As this has been going on since 2003 we might again assume that all concerned were amongst the first PCSO's recruited. What was it they got three weeks training? The fact is the Met recruited a large majority of staff at that time who were unsuitable for the role. They are now stuck with a large number of people who have hit the jackpot, earning more than a constable in training. They received little training from non police officers which included one day on diversity. No training at all on diversity in the workplace, and yes there is a difference. Plastic Fuzz posted on PCSO discipline in the Met and Westminster were found to commence misconduct proceedings the most.
It would appear that a sergeant to her credit wrote a report that ethnic minority staff felt they couldn't speak out to supervisors. In my experience there is a reluctance in all PCSO's black and white to report misconduct to line managers. I've had to literally sit people down and ask them direct about people having me over or behaving inappropriately to colleagues. They operate in a different world and under their own unwritten rules for some reason. They should let it be known who is letting the side down and giving PCSO's a bad name.
Things hopefully have improved with better quality people coming in, and also better training. PCSO's are here to stay, but I still say wait until after the Olympics in 2012. I suspect many will be outsourced to local authorities possibly employed by private companies doing traffic enforcement and other stuff, but still linked to policing through partnership. It makes financial sense and cash at the moment is King.