Police community support officer
A police community support officer (PCSO; Welsh: swyddog cymorth cymunedol yr heddlu, SCCH), or as written in legislation community support officer (CSO; Welsh: swyddog cymorth cymunedol, SCC) is a uniformed member of police staff in England and Wales, a role created by Section 38(2) of the Police Reform Act 2002, which was given Royal Assent by Queen Elizabeth II on 24 July 2002. They are non-warranted but provided with a variety of police powers and the power of a constable in various instances by the forty-three territorial police forces in England and Wales and the British Transport Police (which is the only specialist police service to employ PCSOs).
PCSOs were introduced in September 2002 and first recruited by the Metropolitan Police.
Proposals for PCSOs in Northern Ireland were prevented by a budget shortfall in the Police Service of Northern Ireland, as well as fears that the introduction of uniformed and unarmed PCSOs in Northern Ireland (PSNI constables all carry firearms) would mean they would potentially then become a "legitimate target" in the eyes of the IRA who have attacked other civilians working for the police in Northern Ireland in the past. The Police Reform Act 2002 does not apply to Scotland, which consequently does not have Police Community Support Officers (the acronym PCSO in Police Scotland refers to a Police Custody and Security Officer, known as a detention officer in other parts of the UK.)
As of 2012[update],[needs update] there were 15,820 PCSOs in England and Wales. PCSO numbers had, like those of police constables, been falling in previous years due to austerity. At their prior peak in 2009, 16,814 PCSOs were employed. PCSOs represent 6.8% of total police employees in England and Wales. The Metropolitan Police has the highest contingent of PCSOs, accounting for a quarter of PCSOs in England and Wales. The service with the second largest contingent As of 2012[update] was Greater Manchester Police (GMP) with 837 PCSOs, which was 5% of the total.