Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Dressing up as policemen

The trade union Unison has called for PCSOs to be entitled to wear a uniform virtually identical to those worn by real police officers. According to Unison, the new uniform, which will differ from that worn by real policemen only in the colour of the tie and epaulettes, will make PCSOs feel that they are "part of the police family", and will also increase the respect with which they are regarded by the general public.

As to the former point: well, PCSOs are, for better or worse, "part of the police family", by virtue of the fact that they are employed by the police force. No matter what uniform they wear, this fact will remain unaltered. However, I suspect that the real issue is that some PCSOs don't like being seen as not being "real policemen". Sadly for those that do feel this way, the fact is that PCSOs are not real policemen. They don't have full police powers or training, and it is simply misleading to pretend otherwise. To dress them in a uniform which most members of the public would be unable to distinguish from that worn by full police officers would simply serve to deceive the public as to the true level of street policing. PCSOs may have a role to play (although for the life of me I can't guess what it is), but they are not policemen, and we, the public, should be able to work this out at a glance.

Neither will giving PCSOs a uniform more akin to that worn by fully-trained officers in any way enhance the respect, or, perhaps more accurately, reduce the disrespect, with which they are regarded by the public at large. That lack of respect does not stem from the fact that PCSOs have a different uniform, but from the fact that they are generally (and largely justifiably) seen as being totally ineffectual. You could dress PCSOs up as Attila the Hun, but so long as they were under orders to run away when confronted with anyone threatening violence, they'd still be widely regarded with something approaching contempt.


JuliaM said...

"PCSOs may have a role to play (although for the life of me I can't guess what it is)..."

Well, someone has to stand by the water while a child drowns and 60+ year old fishermen try to save him....

Fulham Reactionary said...

Ah, that would be it.