MORE than 1,000 residents have called on Hampshire Constabulary not to move a PCSO out of their area.
PCSO Dave Earley, who works in Portchester, is due to be moved in April as part of the force’s bid to save £79m.
These changes are due to the government’s comprehensive spending review which reduced funding to the constabulary.
Fareham district commander Chief Inspector Jim Pegler met Portchester residents and traders at Fareham police station yesterday to receive a petition containing 1,179 names, calling on the police to keep PCSO Earley in Portchester.
Chief Insp Pegler said: ‘I was very pleased to hear how much they value the work of PCSO Dave Earley.
‘The strength of feeling is a great endorsement of the work that Dave and his colleagues do on the Neighbourhood Policing Team in Portchester.
‘This petition is strong evidence that PCSOs play a highly valuable part in neighbourhood policing.’
Chairman of the Portchester Traders’ Association Kevin Butcher, who organised the petition, said: ‘I know that cuts have to be made but I feel they have underestimated how people feel.
‘In this particular case I think they have not made the right choice, as do nearly 1,200 other people.’
The petition was available to sign for two weeks in 18 shops in Portchester precinct.
Mr Butcher said that PCSO Earley had built up a good reputation with all ages over the past nine years.
He said: ‘PCSO Earley is special. He is PCSO Portchester – he’s like the modern-day village bobby.’
Ward councillor Roger Price said that PCSO Earley would be ‘sorely missed’ by all of Portchester.
The changes to Hampshire Constabulary will ultimately mean a total reduction of 1,500 police officers and staff, which has driven the need to redesign policing services.
Chief Insp Pegler said that it was ‘impossible to deliver such fundamental change without moving staff around.’
Portchester will maintain a Neighbourhood Policing Team which will tackle any problems in the community.
It will be led by Sergeant Lisa Foster and consist of PC Andy Higgs, PCSO Bob Shailer and PCSO Kim Mitchell.
Chief Insp Pegler said: ‘I am confident that the change will allow us to maintain the level of service we deliver to the community of Portchester and Fareham.
‘It will see the movement of several highly-valued staff members who do a fantastic job for the community, but they will continue to deliver excellent service in whatever role they are placed in.’