What's the point of Huddersfield's PCSOs? We go on patrol and find out...
Aug 26 2010 by Sam Casey, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
PCSO Claire Brassett
WE’RE walking down Ashenhurst Avenue in Ashenhurst when police community support officer Claire Brassett waves to a man walking towards us on the opposite side of the street.
“Hi John,” she calls. “How are you?”
“Very well thanks,” the man, he replies, saluting her with the paper he’s just bought.
Five minutes later, as we cross Newsome Road at the junction with Stile Common Road, the driver of a car pulling up at the crossroads winds his window down.
“You again,” he shouts, cheerfully.
“Yep, back again,” Claire says. “Have you got any gossip for me?”
“Not today” the man calls back, driving off with a wave.
Chit-chat and brief pleasantries with people we walk past are a common theme of the morning I spent on the beat with the 24-year-old Pcso.
Claire, originally from Doncaster, has been in the job for about two years and covers the areas of Newsome, Ashenhurst and Lowerhouses.
As a Pcso, she has powers to arrest and detain suspected offenders, but her main role is in providing reassurance and tackling anti-social behaviour and issues affecting people’s quality of life.
She tells me that getting to know the people in her “patch” is a key part of the job.
The man who called out from his car, for example, had rung the police after seeing Claire out and about because he had suspicions about a nearby house being used as a cannabis factory.
The house was raided and plants found.
“We are there for people to talk to,” she says.
“People need someone they can let off steam to. They will come up to you and say, ‘I just thought you should know about this.’
“We are the people who are accessible to them. If they see enough of you, eventually they start to trust you.”
Claire’s shift starts at 8am, with a briefing at Huddersfield Police Station with her fellow Pcsos and Pcs, as well as two Kirklees Council rangers.
They discuss various incidents they have been dealing with – low-level issues like damage to a bus shelter, breach of an anti-social behaviour order and abusive behaviour towards a shop customer.
The team are briefed about other crimes that are being investigated – a spate of thefts from cars and a burglary by bogus water board workers.
After the briefing, Claire has to produce a statement about two youths she has identified on CCTV, one of whom is suspected of breaching his Asbo.
She is only able to name him because she comes into regular contact with him during her patrols.