By Kaye Wiggins
Lambeth council has unveiled plans to cut half a million pounds in funding for police community support officers (PCSOs) as part of a tough plan to slash its budget by £25m in the next year.
Under the proposals, which are set out in the council’s draft budget, council tax will remain frozen for a sixth year but services including debt advice, arts funding and rubbish collection will be cut back.
The council will end a £530,000 contract which pays the salaries of 23 PCSOs, mainly based in Brixton.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, told the Bugle: “There could be a reduction in PCSO presence in Brixton. Every cut is a worry and we know that seeing uniformed officers on the street is really important, but why should we be subsidising police cuts?”
However, Lambeth borough commander Matt Bell said although the council is cutting funding the officers would not leave the Lambeth area: “The PCSOs in question will remain in the borough targeting anti-social behaviour, preventing crime and making our streets safer.”
Lee Jasper, from the Community Police Consultative Group, told The Bugle it would be ‘crazy’ to cut PCSOs in Brixton. He added: “In these tough economic circumstances there’s an increase in acquisitive crime so it’s a false economy to be cutting police presence.
“It’ll cost the council more to tackle the crime than it would to pay for the PCSOs.”
Other cuts proposed in the council’s draft budget include reviewing the posts of all staff working with vulnerable children, in a bid to save £1.2m.
The council will also reduce its advice and debt support services. Its draft budget says there will be “greater focus on preventing problems and intervening early before debt and arrears become unmanageable.”
It will cut £110,000 from arts groups and aim to save just under £4m by reducing its own layers of management and its workforce costs.
The council’s proposals will be voted on at a meeting at Lambeth Town Hall on February 26.