The funding for Police Community Support Officers has been cut from the Didcot Town Council 2021 budget.

In 2020 Didcot Town Council had a budget of £17,721 to fund PCSOs and in the council budget for 2021-2022 that funding has been cut.

Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) police neighbourhoods, primarily through visible patrol and reassuring the public.

The role is diverse; from attending community events to helping tackle street-based problems including drugs related crime and anti-social behaviour.

According to statistics from the Home Office on the Police workforce in England and Wales as at March 31, 2020, there were 9,547 Police Community Support Officers in 2019 and in 2020 there was small drop with 9,180 PCSOs.

The statistics also show that nationally since 2010 there has been a decline of about 8,000 PCSOs.

Didcot Town Council Mayor Eleanor Hards explained the PCSO contract has not been renewed because it was 'not the best use of council resources'.

She said: “There will not be a contribution from Didcot Town Council.

"This is all part of seizable budget that the council has been discussing in detail for about four months and the PCSO decision came prior to that.”

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She added: “We have to balance our budget, there are a lot of calls on our resources and life at the moment is complicated, we have to make best use of everything we have.”

This means the council’s proportion of the PCSO budget has been cut leaving the funding to Thames Valley Police.

In the budget report written by Town Clerk Janet Wheeler dated December 21, 2020 it opens with a statement about how the pandemic has impacted the councils finances.

Ms Wheeler writes: “Two national lockdowns have affected the income from the Civic Hall- our largest source of income after the precept and the demise of Willowbrook Leisure Centre- our second largest source of income.

“The accounts this year will look very different to the time they were set last year. Furthermore, at the time of setting a budget for the next financial year, it is difficult to predict how long the pandemic will affect our lives.”

There has been many changes made to the budget as a result of the pandemic.

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The budget for staff travel, which would usually cover costs of travel around Didcot and local areas by the planning and environment manager, has been cut by about £200 to £1,500.

Similarly, the budget for training and conferences has reduced from £5,065 to £2,500.

Training and conferences have been rescheduled and held online this year so this was taken into consideration.

However, there is a small increase in the budget for recruitment advertising and £1,500 is set to be spent.

The reason given for this increase is to attract more staff as the Covid pandemic recedes and the civic Hall become busier.

Thames Valley Police has been contacted for a comment about the funding cut of PCSOs.