Patrolling drug hotspots, recovering stolen items and protecting the vulnerable people in the community is all part of a normal week in the life of a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO).
Kelly Wilkins is starting to find that out after joining Sussex Police as a PCSO for the Devonshire and Meads area of Eastbourne earlier ion the year.
She said: “The life of a PCSO can be completely different from one week to the next. One week you can be helping with neighbour disputes and safeguarding vulnerable people and the next you’re doing house to house enquiries to aid an investigation.
“Since starting this role in April I have recovered stolen bikes, conducted patrols, assisted with various investigations and now I’m getting involved with the local community to try and reduce drug dealing in a hotspot area of the town centre.
“I’m passionate about getting to know my area and meeting the locals. I conduct regular patrols of the area and engage with the public and businesses on my way.”
PCSOs work closely with community groups and partner agencies of Sussex Police. The build relationships that help them identify issues and concerns in a certain area and find the best way to address it.
This could involve working with Community Speedwatch to crack down on nuisance driving, or liaising with local housing associations to bring respite to residents living in neighbourhoods affected by anti-social behaviour.
They also conduct patrols as part of Operation Blitz – an initiative allowing members of the public to report any anti-social behaviour directly to officers via a dedicated phone number.
The number, 07785372050, is available from 6pm to midnight every Friday and Saturday night and goes straight through to officers out and about on the ground.
Alongside the visible patrol activity, much of their work also goes on behind the scenes, including taking statements from victims and witnesses to help a criminal investigation or to help put safeguarding measures in place to protect a vulnerable person.
Since last month Dan Brian-Davis has also been a PCSO for the Devonshire and Meads area of Eastbourne he says: “I have wanted to join the police from a young age. I had several close family friends who worked in the police and I didn’t have any second thoughts about joining.
“A normal daytime shift for me would consist of an 8am start, morning briefing where we will go through incidents that have occurred the previous day as they may be relevant to the types of calls we may attend throughout the shift.
“We will then check any calls that had been made overnight that we will attend throughout our shift. These jobs could relate to a disagreement between two neighbours, issues within a certain area and working closely with partner agencies to ensure the vulnerable within our communities are safe and well.
“During the day, we may be called to reports from the public of anti-social behaviour which we will attend and deal with as required, or missing people where we will assist with area searching to locate the person.
“In addition to this, we carry out dedicated patrol activity (DPA) in areas where there have been several reports of anti-social behaviour or incidents of minor crime.
“More recently our DPAs have been at hotspot areas for anti-social behaviour such as Beachy Head and key locations in the town centre but also along the seafront up to Sovereign Harbour.”
PCSO Wilkins and PCSO Brian-Davis are two of the 100 additional PCSOs Sussex Police recruited in the last financial year to boost local community teams. Every ward in Sussex now has a named PCSO.
Members of the public can find out how many crime reports have been made in their area and the action being take to address them here.