As you all know, I'm not in the job but from the outside looking in I see a lot of problems with this. As far as I'm aware PCSO duties include;
- providing a visible and reassuring presence within communities
- attending incidents of disorder, nuisance and anti-social behaviour
- dealing with community issues such as littering and dog fouling
- checking out abandoned vehicles
- gathering evidence through observation
- helping with missing persons enquiries
- speaking to young people who might be drunk and causing problems, confiscating alcohol and tobacco, if necessary
- crowd control and directing traffic at public events
- helping direct traffic at road blocks or scenes of accidents
- assisting police with recording names & addresses or door-to-door enquiries
- Just how reassuring is it going to be for people to see two sixteen year olds patrolling their neighbourhood? It wouldn't reassure me because even if they didn't look their age, who's to say they have the ability to cope with problems they come across? The difference in the two years between sixteen & eighteen (The age you can apply for recruitment to regular police) is vast. Both in attitude & appearance. By eighteen you have at least had some experience with the public & how you are perceived having already had some sort of job. You've had chance to experience the wider world out of school & to find your feet, I know myself the difference in me between the age of sixteen & eighteen was huge.
- How on earth are they going to be able to sort out anti-social behaviour & disorder? Even with backup who is going to take notice of them? Especially the gobby youths who don't have respect for the regular police let alone PCSO's who are younger than they are. Whats going to happen when they ask for alcohol to be disposed of or confiscated when they aren't legal drinking age themselves? What is the fifteen year old youth/drunken man/woman going to do then? Especially when he/she knows full well they don't have powers of arrest & can only detain them for a maximum of 30 minutes. I'm sure that will have the local ASBO holders quaking in their boots.
- Relating to the above, how can they confiscate alcohol from a young person or adults when they aren't of legal drinking age themselves? When they can't legally buy or drink themselves & they are asking Joe Public to hand over his bottle of white lightening or can of Stella. I really can't see him handing it over without some sort of fight or verbal 'communication'...
- What about guarding of crime scenes? Are they really going to be able to handle standing on the cordon of a murder scene? Or rape? Are they really going to have the mental strength to deal with that? & more to the point, the attitude to deal with the public & be able to hold their composure in difficult situations. What are their parents going to have to say about it?
- They are going to be out on patrol with only a radio for assistance. No cuffs, no baton, no vest etc. As they can't legally drive they will only be out on foot patrol & may not be with a regular officer but another PCSO so not necessarily have the back up & full powers of a regular officer in a partner. As stated in the PCSO job description as defined by ACPO on the website "They are often sent out to patrol areas experiencing particular problems, such as estates where there have been a spate of car thefts or burglaries, or communities where there have been complaints about nuisance youths on the streets." So straight away they are going to be faced by people that don't want them around & put into hostile & risky environments. Unless they are given a special patrol through the towns toyshops & sweet shops........ Sorry but I can't help it, it is a thoroughly ridiculous situation.
- How is this job going to affect them? & their lives? It's not just a question of being able to handle the public but the question of their age & how the things they will have to have a part in will affect them.
Whoever passed their application should have referred them to the police cadets instead or gave them appropriate advice to come back & re-apply at eighteen. In my eyes it is asking for trouble, the perception of the police isn't that good with ordinary law abiding members of the public let alone the lowlifes who constantly need the attention of them. And they all know that PCSO's aren't the real deal even if Joe Public can't always tell the difference so what qualms are they going to have at giving two sixteen year olds who have not got full police powers as much hassle as they can? Age in number may not matter but life experience, attitude & maturity does & can make one hell of a difference in things. Even if they do look older than their age physically, mentally they are still sixteen years old & still only have the experience most sixteen year olds have unless they are an exception to the norm. As far as I can see their age is not going to be a help in some circumstances, it may well go for them in some but for the majority I can only see it as a hindrance. It isn't their physical appearance so much (If it was I would be straight out the door!) but the attitude & life experience you don't have at sixteen because you haven't had the opportunity to gain it.
I fully expect some backlash on this (Too quick to judge/PCSO hater) but as I said at the start, I'm not in the job so have no real in-depth idea about how they will get on nor can I really judge being as they haven't been out on duty yet but reading the original reports & statements, & reading what the police have to do & the kind of people they have to deal with I stick by my original comments & opinion. I can see trouble on the horizon, namely a rise in assaults against police for TVP if those concerned aren't careful.....
And in less important news, I've gone back to the original template. The other one was a bit dull I thought :)