Police officer and PCSO

PCSOs: Designated police powers


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Section 38 of the Police Reform Act 2002 (“Act”) enables chief officers of police to designate any person who is employed by the police authority and is under the direction and control of that chief officer as a ‘community support officer’. The term ‘community support officer’ is widely used to describe a variety of staff from differing agencies fulfilling a community safety function. The term ‘Police Community Support Officer’ (PCSO) should be used to describe staff in all forces who are designated by chief officers under section 38 of the Act.

A chief officer must be satisfied that a person is suitable, capable and adequately trained to carry out the functions required of them.

Section 38 of the Act allows a chief officer to designate powers to PCSOs as set out in Part 1 of Schedule 4 of the Act (as amended by the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 and the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005). Chief officers must decide which, if any, of the paragraphs in Part 1 are to be designated to PCSOs in their force. Paragraphs must be selected in their entirety, unless the paragraph specifies otherwise (e.g. paragraph 1(3)(b) allows the selection of relevant offences). The ability to designate some paragraphs is also dependent on the designation of others (e.g. paragraph 11B can only be designated if paragraph 3A is also designated).

Police officer and PCSO

A PCSO has lesser powers than a police officer.

The main powers of a PCSO are set out in the table below.

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This information is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. It should not be relied upon as being up to date; the law or policies may have changed since it was last updated; and it should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice or as a substitute for it. A suitably qualified professional should be consulted if specific advice or information is required.


Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.

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External link: Police community support officer powers (PDF, 35.9KB)

Published: –

Author: HM Government



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