Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Martin Surl has given his backing to Gloucester’s new City Protection Officers (CPOs) launched today (Monday). But he also cautioned them against overstepping the mark.
The primary role of CPOs will be to provide a highly visible security presence around an area of the city bordering the Quays to the south; the railway station to the north; Gloucester Cathedral in the west and the Park to the east.
They will operate for 200 hours over a seven day week, 364 days a year and be managed by City Safe, a partnership also supported by the PCC which links the police, city council, licensees, businesses and other organisations.
Mr. Surl who has committed £52,500 over the next 18 months to help get the project off the ground, with a further £70,000 subject to certain conditions being met, said: “The idea of having City Protection Officers is now well established elsewhere and research shows that working in partnership with the police, local business, local authorities and other stakeholders, they can make a major contribution towards safety and security.
“I understand why they can have a role to play in Gloucester, but it is also a delicate one of which enforcement is only a part. It’s just as important they are good ambassadors and do not become over zealous – as reported in some other towns and cities”.
The application for funding from the PCC was made on behalf of Gloucester City Council, Gloucester Business Improvement District (BID) and Gloucester City Safe.
A further application to Gloucestershire Constabulary for training and limited enforcement powers under the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme is anticipated while Gloucester City Council is also expected to delegate powers to enable CPOs to deal with enforcement issues under its jurisdiction.
Mr. Surl said, “I have made it clear that if CPOs are given enforcement powers, their pay will not be related to income generated from fines; they should work with the council, police and other stakeholders to find sustainable solutions when dealing with individuals regarded as vulnerable, such as street beggars, street drinkers and rough sleepers; and their job will not be to deal with problems the city’s had for some time simply by moving them outside their catchment area.
“Gloucester is on the up and I’m keen that continues. But I don’t want to see citizens being landed with fines for some relatively minor transgression that might have happened innocently or unknowingly when a quiet word would do.
“That’s why one of the conditions of the funding is that CPOs are approachable, friendly and welcoming to the public and will help with directions and any other information that may be asked of them”.
Gloucester City Safe Manager Rich Burge said, “The team who have put in so much work to launch the City Protection Officers – including the Gloucester BID, Gloucester City Council and Gloucester City safe are really grateful for the support from the Police and Crime Commissioner and his team. Without their support and funding we would have struggled to get the CPOs deployed so soon and to cover the hours that we need to help make Gloucester an even safer place for Businesses and their staff, customers and everyone coming into the City to work, shop and socialise.
“We have always been very clear that our CPOs will be deployed to provide a highly visible presence and to act as a security blanket for the City. They will be approachable and act as ambassadors for the City Centre and in time will become familiar faces on the streets. Although we want them to have appropriate enforcement powers, enforcement will always be a last resort and will form a very small part of their role.”
Gloucester News Centre – http://gloucesternewscentre.co.uk