THEY are the face of Gloucestershire Constabulary and the uniformed presence on our streets.
Police Community Support Officers are civilian members of police staff who we see patrolling our neighbourhoods chatting to youngsters.
Their role is seen as link between the community and the police, acting as the first port of call for the public.
Their powers are limited in comparison with police officers but they do have certain authority, such as detaining someone for up to half an hour before officers arrive.
Chris Jenkinson has been a PCSO in the Matson area for the past nine years and he is extremely passionate about his role.
Before Christmas, he popped into Robinswood Primary School as part of a regular link up with the academy.
He told Year 2 pupils that Father Christmas knows some of them will be getting bikes and scooters, but the big man also wants them to be safe and visible when riding them around.
He said: “My favourite part of the job is speaking to the kids and working to break down those barriers that some people have with the police.
“I go to Robinswood Primary School every couple of months, working my way around all the year groups. I have been doing it since I started and now some of the children are in their late teens and have kids of their own.
“I think it’s important that they see me as someone they can speak to, that familiar face on the street.”
There are currently 15,820 PCSOs in England and Wales. PCSO numbers have, like those of police constables, been falling in recent years due to economic austerity. At their peak in 2009, 16,814 PCSOs were employed.
PCSOs represent 6.8 per cent of total police employees in England and Wales.
Chris has always worked in Matson during his nine years and it is an area close to his heart.
He said: “Matson is one of those areas where everyone knows everyone. There is a lot of social housing, plus we are lucky in that we have the Redwell Centre and the Gateway so there is a real close knit community.
“That can really work in your favour when an investigation is taking place.”
Trends in crime come and go but Chris is pleased to report that, since he donned the uniform, one particular nuisance has been on the decline.
“Antisocial behaviour is, and always has been, a battle,” he said.
“But I think we are getting there, speaking to the kids in schools helps for sure.
“There was also an incident a few years back where kids were hitting golf balls into the bungalows from the fields, so we went to speak to them and we showed them a proper environment where they could do it.
“It’s things like that which can really make a difference.”
Chief Inspector Richard Burge said: “Chris is a fantastic PCSO who has worked really hard to get to know and understand the community he works in.
“He’s built very strong and long lasting relationships with many of the residents in Matson and Robinswood and by working with them to address issues has improved people’s trust and confidence in us as a police force.
“I hope the dedication and enthusiasm he shows every day inspires others to get involved in the community.”