Working as a Police community support officer
William Jackson is a police community support officer (PCSO). Wearing their own distinctive uniform, PCSOs work closely with their police colleagues. Although they do not have the same powers as a beat officer, they reassure the public by providing a more visible police presence on the street.
What does your job involve?
I respond to all sorts of incidents within the community. This can involve minor offences such as parking, littering or cycling on the footpaths, as well as sorting out on-going problems such as neighbour disputes.
I also deal with things such as traffic control, issuing fixed penalty notices, house-to-house enquiries, missing person enquiries and scene-guarding for serious investigations – all the jobs which don't necessarily require a police officer in the first instance.
Do you have a typical day?
No day is ever the same. I try to deal with all the jobs in my tray at the start of the day, including enquiries, processing information relating to offences or giving words of advice to offenders. Part of my day is usually spent patrolling towns and issuing parking tickets. I never know what may turn up. Once, I had to deal with a bolting horse on a busy main road.
Do you have access to police resources?
Yes. We have a lot of equipment available to us, most importantly police vehicles, police computer systems and databases, police radios and mobile CCTV vehicles.
Why did you apply to be a PCSO?
I enjoy being able to work with the community and, when I heard about this new initiative, decided to find out more. It is also useful preparation as my real ambition is to join the police service as a regular police constable and it provides me with a chance to experience the work environment.
What training do you receive?
As a new recruit you get six weeks initial training – split between lectures and working on the streets and at the police station. Then, it is back to the classroom for a further 10 weeks. Study topics cover the law, first aid, paperwork, unarmed defence training and traffic control.
In addition, I had on-the-job training in operating CCTV, criminal investigation systems and data protection and security. I have basic driving authorisation to enable me to drive police vehicles.
What hours do you work?
A normal week is 37 hours. This is on a shift system which involves different starting times. Sometimes I start at 8am and finish early. Other shifts involve starting later and finishing at midnight.
What do you like best about your job?
Knowing I've made a difference to people's lives. Hopefully, I help to give people a better quality of living in their community by sorting out issues that are affecting them. I also enjoy being involved in police operations, working with my police colleagues and using sophisticated equipment such as CCTV.
What skills and qualities do you need?
Anyone working with the community needs to be sympathetic, as you will spend a lot of time dealing with people who are victims of crime. It's important to be precise, accurate and methodical when recording details of incidents, especially as your records may be used in court to convict somebody.
William's route to becoming a Police community support officer
- Initial Police Community Support Officer's course.
- Police First Aid – Module 2.
- PCSO tutor's course.
William's Police community support officer tips
- Get some community service experience before you apply, such as taking courses in public services or getting involved in voluntary work.
- Talk to a police contact or a personal adviser about the work beforehand.
Police community support officer related jobs
- Police officer
- Traffic warden
- Security officer/manager
- Store detective
Salary of a Police community support officer
- The salary for a PCSO starts at £14,958 and increases with shift enhancements to between £17,979 and £19,053.
- There are no set educational or age requirements to becoming a PCSO, though anyone interested in working for the emergency or armed services should consider doing one of the preparatory courses available at many further educational colleges.
- – Preparation for Entry to the Uniformed Services.
- – BTEC First or National Diploma in Public Services.
- Applicants to individual forces would normally be expected to have a full, clean driving licence, good general health and fitness and satisfactory references. The assessment usually consists of interactive role-play exercises and interviews.
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