As part of a nationwide dedicated week of action, Sussex Police is highlighting the vital work carried out by our Neighbourhood Policing Teams to keep our communities safe.

Working at the heart of our communities is central to policing in Sussex, and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) have an essential role to play in that process.

Sussex Police has hundreds of PCSOs within its Neighbourhood Policing Teams who form a crucial link between residents, businesses, the police and partner agencies.

They are out patrolling the streets of our villages, towns and cities, identifying the issues that affect communities on a daily basis and finding the most effective ways to solve them.

That support is vital in combating the root causes of crime and anti-social behaviour and allows the force to build up detailed profiles of its communities. Targeted plans can then be put in place tailored to their specific needs.

Alongside that community engagement work, PCSOs also have enforcement powers which in many respects align with those of police officers.

These powers allow them to deal quickly with the insidious issues that impact communities, such as issuing fixed penalty notices for littering, cycling on footpaths, disorder offences and a number of other crimes.

They can seize tobacco and alcohol from underage users, drugs and even vehicles that are being used to cause alarm, alongside having the power to stop and search in authorised areas and stop vehicles for testing.

PCSOs can also detain people they believe have committed an offence.

Some of our PCSOs in Brighton and Hove recently worked with a community in the city centre which was impacted by anti-social behaviour and drug dealing. They engaged with residents on a daily basis, became familiar, direct points of contact and put measures in place to address the issues.

Chief Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw said: “PCSOs are so important in connecting communities with the police force and the huge number of partner agencies available to offer wider support.

“Our Neighbourhood Policing Teams work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at the heart of our communities carrying out vital preventative work that often goes unseen.

“While enforcement is important, there is so much more to policing than the headline-grabbing arrests and PCSOs are some of the many unsung heroes in the police force.

“As always, members of the public reporting crimes and concerns is essential for us to identify the areas most in need of support. Please do speak to your neighbourhood PCSOs, patrolling police officers or contact Sussex Police online, via 101 or by calling 999 in an emergency.”

From January 17 to 23, police forces across the country will be shining the spotlight on their Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPT) and sharing information on the work they do to help people in their time of need.