A POLICE chief has praised the valued role of community support officers.
West Yorkshire Police's head of community safety, Chief Supt Phil Read, defended their contribution after national reports which suggest a third of police officers disapprove of such officers and are critical of their role and training.
Chief Supt Read said: "The West Yorkshire force is considered a centre of best practice in its use and management of support officers.
"The Plural Policing Unit, which was set up to co-ordinate the development of support officers, along with the expansion of the Special Constabulary and other volunteers, has received visitors from every other force in the country, as well as from abroad.
"We have 343 support officers in West Yorkshire, with a further 18 being trained.
"An evaluation of support officers in Leeds and Bradford last year showed that they helped to reduce crime in both city centres by acting as a visible deterrent to thieves.
"It also showed a high level of public satisfaction (96%) with the service they offer.
"The role of the regular constable has become more complex in recent years and it is important we maintain this vital link with communities."