THE Mayor of Dudley has thanked four Dudley’s PCSOs for their service to the borough over the last 16 years.

Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) joined West Midlands Police and began walking the streets of Dudley for the first time on August 18, 2003.

Four of the original cohort - Julie Hickman, Nicola Tinker and Deborah Hancox - have continued to serve in the borough for the whole of their service - while Amarjit Randhawa recently moved to Smethwick, having been based in Dudley for the bulk of his career.

To celebrate their continued service - the Mayor of Dudley, Councillor David Stanley, welcomed the four to the Mayor’s Parlour following a tour of the Council Chamber.

He said: "I’m really glad I was able to welcome the officers to the Council House. We’re all aware of the important work they do and their contribution to the wider work of the West Midlands Police Force.

"I know that for many people, seeing the PCSOs in their communities is really reassuring. They’re friendly and approachable, professional and highly dedicated to service our local communities.

"I’d like to thank them and all of the PCSOs who help to make the borough a safer place to live."

Chief Superintendent, Sally Bourner, said: "Our PCSOs are the absolute foundation of neighbourhood policing.

"We are delighted to recognise 16 years of dedication to our community and it says everything about the community spirit of Dudley that every one of our four PCSOs who remain from the original West Midlands Police cohort who joined in 2003 have either served in or continued to serve the people of Dudley borough."

PCSOs were introduced under Police Reform Act 2002 - starting in the Metropolitan Police area - to help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.

While they don’t have the same powers of a police officer, many have become familiar faces in the borough - working as part of the neighbourhood policing team to build relationships with the community and supporting warranted officers and community action teams to solve local problems.

They are able to deal with minor offences, under powers granted by a chief constable, and support frontline policing with house-to-house enquiries, providing crime prevention advice and guarding crime scenes. They also work with schools and young people.

Julie Hickman, below, was one of the first recruits to join West Midlands Police.

Stourbridge News: PCSO Julie Hickman who is based in Brierley HillPCSO Julie Hickman who is based in Brierley Hill

Currently based in Brierley Hill, she said: "The first years were exciting but came with an abundance of bridges to build and cross over.

"When I first arrived I hit the ground running, however I learnt very quickly that to solve a problem was not a one man job and to deal effectively with issues blighting an area you need to tackle the root cause, by working with other people and organisations.

"Throughout my time I have been able to build amazing relationships with the partner agencies, charities and active citizens in the area. This has developed through time and now we have an excellent team of people that work together to solve issues within the community.

"I’ve helped care for the youngest, oldest and most vulnerable people on my patch, and have had to wear many hats besides that of a police officer − this has included leader, trainer, life saver, mental health advisor, litter picker, bag packer and chef - you name it and somewhere over the years I have been it."

Nicola Tinker, from the Dudley Central Team, said: "A good PCSO should be embedded in their community and with time you gain the trust and respect of all the community groups.

"Stability is vital in neighbourhood policing for the public to get to know their local PCSO, who is now the modern day beat bobby.

"Helping people is the most rewarding part of the job, be it just giving directions whilst on foot patrol to saving a life."