SOLIHULL visitor guides have been trained in self-defence and restraint techniques to help counter the cuts to the area’s Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).
A group of four town hosts, who are employed by Solihull Business Improvement District (BID), have been given Security Industry Association training to door supervisor level.
It is hoped their new skills will help with crime prevention when they are patrolling the town centre and guiding visitors. They also have radio links to the CCTV control centre.
It comes after West Midlands Police proposed to take hundreds of PCSOs off the streets by 2020 as part of the force’s plan to save £130million.
The hosts have also been given legal advice on what they are allowed to do in emergency situations.
John Timms, who is the BID operations manager who also chairs the Solihull Retail Crime Initiative, said by giving the hosts extra training it allowed them to recognise and deal with different and evolving situations in a more reassured and confident manner.
Melanie Palmer, BID executive director, added their business plan was formed following consultation with town centre companies and aimed to keep Solihull safe and secure.
“The main role for our town hosts is to act as a reassuring presence in the town and to work closely with key partners to protect our businesses and to deter criminal activity,” she said.
“The recent training enhances their existing knowledge making their team impact even stronger.”
Chief Sup Alex Murray, Solihull police commander, said the expected reduction in PCSOs would not happen immediately and he did not know at this stage where and how fast the numbers would be reduced by.
He added in Solihull town centre the BID’s town hosts were well known and much loved for their work providing reassurance to visitors, advice to businesses and a clear deterrent message to criminals.
“Not many town centres have teams like this and I am really pleased Solihull’s works so well.
“The extra training they will receive on crime prevention will help bring down business crime and make sure Solihull is even safer in the evening.
“I would personally like to thank both the BID team for their commitment and the Solihull businesses for their on-going support to the BID. I would love to see BIDs start in Shirley and Chelmsley Wood too.”
Chief Sup Murray said West Midlands Police was still committed to neighbourhood policing and to catering for the smaller numbers.
He added they were changing how they operated in nearly every field to become more efficient and to concentrate on the areas where the greatest impact on crime could be achieved.