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Home Maidstone News Article
Kent schools liaison police officers are to be scrapped - and replaced with PCSOs.
In the latest in a series of cutbacks, the dozen officers - introduced after the murder of head teacher Philip Lawrence in 1995 - are to go.
Tasked with helping schools deal with unruly pupils, they are to be replaced by PCSOs, who have fewer powers.
The Kent Police Federation - which represents rank-and-file officers - said it is the "reality of cuts to police budgets".
Chairman Ian Pointon said: "Whilst I appreciate the concern and disappointment, difficult operational decisions have to be made.
"We have already seen £50million cut from the budget with a cut of £20million to come."
He added: "We have lost 500 police officers and 700 police staff. The next round of cuts will see a further 100 police officers, 25 PCSOs and 190 staff posts disappear.
"That's the reality of what a £20million budget cut means for Kent Police.
"We have always maintained there would be consequences to the cuts. We've seen police station front counters closed; officers no longer attending every crime and now the withdrawal of these roles."
Kent Police Ch Supt Neil Jerome said: "Kent Police is making some changes to how it is structured with the emphasis being on local policing, which will continue to be at the heart of the Kent Police model.
"Under the model, a decision has been made to have PCSOs take over the responsibilities of school liaison officers, with those duties forming part of each PCSO's core role.
"PCSOs will be acting as a known contact, working closely with the schools on their patch to provide consistent support. They will be also have access to additional expert support from Kent Police headquarters."
He added: "School liaison officers were first introduced following the murder of head teacher Philip Lawrence in 1995. However, the situation has changed considerably since then.
"Changes to the Education Act now mean that schools have extra powers to deal with incidents, and when the role of Liaison Officers was introduced we didn't have neighbourhood policing, which we do now.
"There are around 730 schools in Kent, and the force currently has only 12 liaison officers, who will be given new roles in local policing when these changes are implemented later in the year. There are more than 300 PCSOs working closely within each community across Kent and they will provide regular engagement with schools and pupils.
"By strengthening local policing, Kent Police will be able to provide support where and when it is needed and embed that support more widely so that all schools have a relationship with their local officer."
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