A TEAM of 140 Police Community Support Officers have been dubbed the “Keystone Flops” after solving only five crimes in a year.
The officers cost taxpayers up to £3.5million in wages and their detection rate adds up to £700,000 for each offence.
Despite being able to dish out fines for offences such as public disorder and anti-social behaviour, they issued only one between April 2007 and March last year.
The 140-strong PCSO unit in Suffolk is now facing a mass cull. Unimpressed police chiefs reckon that public money would be better spent on full-time officers instead of part-time “Plastic Plods” with limited powers who cannot arrest offenders.
Force bosses are ready to split up the squad unless detection rates improve. An insider said: “They’re all ready for the worst. They know the figures suggest they are ineffective.
“Colleagues have even sneakily dubbed them the Keystone Flops, after the 1920s movie policemen.”
Matt Gould, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, said that he would prefer to spend their salaries to fund fully-fledged crime fighters.
He said: “The figures are not massively impressive.”
But Gary Kitching, Suffolk’s Assistant Chief Constable, defended the figures, claiming PCSOs were the “backbone” of neighbourhood policing teams and their impact had been “enormous”.
And a Home Office spokesman said: “To judge them on how many penalty notices they issue is not an effective measure of their ability to tackle crime.”