THE BLOG
01/02/2016 10:35 GMT | Updated 01/02/2017 05:12 GMT

Give PCSOs Fire and Medical Training to Bolster Frontline Services

PCSOs should be given fire safety and first-response medical training to act as an additional front line for all three of London's emergency services.

Additional training could enable London's 1,667 community officers to perform CPR or other medical treatment on a patient when they are first on scene.

They could also assist fire brigades by delivering fire safety advice to households in their communities whilst out on their daily rounds.

The role of PCSOs does not have to stop there. They could also assist local authority enforcement officers and Trading Standards to help with local issues from flyposting and littering to doorstep fraudsters.

This co-responding approach would deliver value for money and a practical service to Londoners at a time when the capital's emergency services need to be adaptable to change.

My new report, Tri-Service: Broadening the role of London's PCSOs, shows that similar strategies have already been adopted within police forces across the UK.

London should be at the forefront of revolutionising policing and now is the time to trial new-look PCSOs within our communities.

Much of the fire safety and medical training required is already taking place across London so there would be no set-up costs - it is simply a case of getting PCSOs on existing courses.

This is not about replacing roles, it is about strengthening local services and easing the burden on our already strained emergency resources.

A co-responding approach could also save lives. Fast-responses in medical emergencies are of obvious importance.

PCSOs currently receive some medical training and it is common for them to use these skills whilst on duty.

But broadening the medical abilities of officers who could very well be the first-on-scene in time-sensitive emergencies provides obvious advantages to the patient or patients involved.

There are clear advantages also in providing fire safety advice. Figures from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority suggest that between 2006 and 2012, home fire safety visits prevented over 4,500 fires.

London's PCSOs could be trained to identify potential fire hazards in the home, provide fire safety advice and be equipped with the skills to install and check smoke alarms.

PCSOs can do more for London and this is a fantastic opportunity to maximise their potential.

I am calling on the MPS to consider four separate trials to fully assess the practicalities of PCSOs delivering each of the additional services I have suggested.

I would also like the Mayor of London to host a roundtable discussion with the leaders of London boroughs to develop a strategy enabling PCSOs to take on more responsibilities of local authority enforcement officers.

London's emergency services need innovative solutions to keep up with the increasing demands of a growing capital.

By diversifying the capabilities of our hard-working PCSOs, we will be providing a value-for-money service that is adaptable to the future of London's policing.