THE number of full-time Police Community Support Officers across the Thames Valley has dropped drastically, according to recent figures.

In an analysis of new Home Office statistics from the House of Commons, it has been found that in the past eight years there are 171 fewer PCSOs.

The drop is a decrease of 37.3 per cent.

In 2015, 459 community officers were employed to join the force in stark contrast to the 288 that were recorded in September 2022.

Liberal Democrats leader, Clive Jones has said that ‘communities have been let down in the Thames Valley’ leading to more crimes going unsolved.

Mr Jones, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Wokingham, said: “These shocking figures prove that Conservative Ministers are failing to prevent crime in Wokingham and the Thames Valley. They should be ashamed.

“Police Community Support Officers play a vital role in keeping our communities safe. The Government should be empowering them to do their job, not slashing their numbers into oblivion.”

“Liberal Democrats are calling for a return to proper community policing, where officers are visible, trusted and known personally to local people. We will build communities where people are safe - and feel safe, too.”

The same trend is being seen up and down the country, with the number of active PCSOs falling by an average of 33 per cent in England and Wales since 2015. Nationally, England and Wales have lost 4,068 PCSOs since 2015.

According to Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber, one of his main objectives this year is to improve visible policing and to ensure members of the public feel confident in their police force.

However, with many community officers moving over into full-time policing, it has put a strain on the remaining dedicated patrol in different areas.

Matthew Barber said: “We saw a lot of PCSOs making the leap to move and we can’t stop them. It’s a great move for them and they often make fantastic police officers because they’ve got years of experience. However, that does leave us with a gap somewhere else.

It’s an unwelcome problem, but it’s good to see that we have them all in uniform. We are recruiting for PCSOs at the minute, there are vacancies and they are funded.

“I’ve got the money there for our PCSOs and I’ve got vacancies open now if anyone wants to apply to those roles.

“PCSOs are definitely part of the mix in Thames Valley Policing and will continue to be so for some time. So, we’ll see more police officers but definitely more PCSOs as we continue to develop.”