From today (Monday, 19 December), PCSOs in Surrey have been given the power to stop and search underage drinkers and smokers for alcohol and tobacco, and over 18s drinking in areas where anti-social behaviour is strongly linked to alcohol abuse. The second new power allows PCSOs to return truants to specified designated places (these generally being home or back to school).
The new powers have been granted by the Chief Officer Group following discussions with the PCSOs directly, their supervisors, colleagues in the neighbourhood teams and UNISON.
Superintendent Sharon Bush said: “Surrey Police is a listening organisation and we have responded to concerns voiced by the public, the media and our own staff to review our support officers’ powers.
“These additional powers will allow PCSOs to better deal with local priorities associated with alcohol and disorder and assist neighbourhood officers and education welfare officers in dealing with truants.”
Cranleigh PCSO Steve Baldwin added: “The new search powers are great news for communities. It has been frustrating knowing that youngsters have bottles of beer in their rucksacks or spirits in their pockets and being unable to search them in the best interests of their safety. These extra powers mean we will be able to tackle this alcohol-related anti-social behaviour without having to rely on colleagues to come assist.”
“The youths who refuse to let you look in their bags when they have booze are often the small minority who cause the greatest amount of pain to the communities that we serve. These additional powers should be looked on as a practical step forward in enabling PCSOs to tackle the issues that are regularly highlighted as a concern by residents.”