‘We are here to reduce crime’ – a day in the life of a PCSO

Brian and Edith Clear of Swanfield Drive with PCSO Sean Trebble
Brian and Edith Clear of Swanfield Drive with PCSO Sean Trebble

AS the morning patrol begins, community support officer Sean Trebble is approached by a woman worried about an abandoned skip outside her home.

This would be the first of many impromptu meetings with local residents that PCSO Trebble would encounter on patrol through his district of East Chichester.

PCSO Karen Turrell and son Luca,4  14LAAUG31c-1 PPP-140831-163736006

PCSO Karen Turrell and son Luca,4 14LAAUG31c-1 PPP-140831-163736006

“It has gotten better and better,” said the 35-year-old after reassuring the woman and explaining where to report the skip.

“There used to be a lot of confusion about PCSOs but we are here to reduce crime and the fear of crime and people understand that now.”

Chichester has experienced a drop in crime rates over recent years, attributed in part to the efforts of neighbourhood policing teams which include community support officers.

East Chichester, a district that stretches from New Park Road to the residential areas around St Richard’s Hospital, is a good example of the positive effect this kind of community policing has had.

This becomes obvious as PCSO Trebble stops at Swanfield Community Centre to check in with centre managers Brian and Edith Clear.

The retired couple from Swanfield Drive have been working with him to reduce anti-social behaviour around Swanfield Park.

“He identifies with people on the estates and he’s always approachable,” said Brian.

“If he wasn’t here we wouldn’t have been able to deal with half of the problems we have so far.”

Previously, the park surrounding the community centre was used by young people as a place to deal drugs and drink.

But with PCSO Trebble’s help, Edith and Brian have managed to reduce the amount of anti-social activity in the area through simple measures such as cutting back bushes which groups of young people would use as cover to gather behind.

“More families come to play on the green now,” said Edith, who meets PCSO Trebble at least twice a week to discuss progress. “There’s been more change in the time Sean has been with us than at any other time.”

After working as a security guard and doorman for five years, PCSO Trebble joined Sussex Police in 2007 on the advice of a friend who already worked in the service.

Since joining, he has worked in areas including Southwick, Portslade, Fishersgate, and Shoreham.

For the past five years he has worked in Chichester’s neighbourhood policing team which also includes PCs and sergeants.

“It’s about keeping a visible presence,” he said.

“My main concern is to be here on a daily basis doing my job.”

A recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary raised concerns about the inappropriate use of resources, including PCSOs being deployed to deal with situations they are not trained for.

But PCSO Trebble has had no such experiences and was positive about the state of neighbourhood policing.

“We’re thinking smarter,” he explained.

“The only real change we’ve seen is basically re-branding of what we would do anyway. Reassurance visits are now called follow-up visits but it’s still about reassuring the community.”

Following the announcement that Chichester and Bognor Regis would be losing three firefighters, and plans for considerable cuts within Sussex Police over the next three years, anyone would forgive him for worrying.

But he is characteristically calm about the situation: “Government is concentrating a lot on neighbourhood policing – I wouldn’t say I’m worried.”