A LIBERAL Democrat leader in Andover has called for a return to “proper” community policing following a report that the number of Police Community Support Officers (PCSO) in Hampshire has been cut by 29 per cent since 2015.

According to the latest Home Office statistics commissioned by the Liberal Democrats from the House of Commons Library, there have been “drastic cuts” to PCSOs in Hampshire.

A total of 215 full-time equivalent PCSOs were employed in Hampshire as of September 2022.

This is in stark contrast to the 302 that were employed in March 2015 – meaning there have been 87 PCSOs cut from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary in that time.

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The Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservative Government of letting communities in Hampshire down by taking PCSOs off the streets, leading to more crimes going unsolved and victims going without justice

Responding to the figures, Cllr Luigi Gregori, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for North West Hampshire and an Andover Town Council member, said: “The Conservatives talk tough on law and order yet the reality shows a pattern of neglect. These shocking figures prove that Conservative Ministers are yet again failing to prevent crime in Hampshire. They should be ashamed.

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“Police Community Support Officers play a vital role in keeping our communities safe. The Government should be empowering them to do their job, not slashing their numbers into oblivion.

“Liberal Democrats are calling for a return to proper community policing, where officers are visible, trusted and known personally to local people. We will build communities where people are safe – and feel safe, too.”

Overall, the number of active PCSOs has fallen by an average of 33 per cent in England and Wales since 2015.

Nationally, England and Wales have lost 4,068 PCSOs since 2015.