Peter Broughton-Rates is a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) and joined the Met in 2022. Here he explains what the role of a PCSO is, what it involves, bringing to life his ambition of helping the people of London and his most memorable moment so far.
What is a PCSO and what does the role involve?
As a PCSO, I wear a uniform but I’m not a police officer. Being in uniform means I’m really visible to the local people who live in the part of London that I’m responsible for looking after. You’ll hear us described as the Met’s eyes and ears!
80% of my day is out on patrol – walking or cycling. That way local people can stop and talk to me about whatever they like, and I get to know more about what’s happening in my area. Knowing what’s going on locally, what’s really bothering or concerning people is important, as then I can do something about it. As well as building relationships with local people, I also work closely with other organisations in the area, such as the local council and housing associations.
All PCSOs work shifts – that means on some days I might work from 7am until 4pm, sometimes I might work 10am until 7pm and other days I might work 2pm until midnight. I work a mix of weekdays and weekends and my days off will vary depending on what my rota is like, which is all scheduled in advance.
A shift typically starts by looking at the Met’s databases and working out where we need to go, who we need to speak to and in what capacity. Is it to go and be seen in a particular area to catch up with local people after they’ve reported concerns to us? Is it to spread the word that a burglary has happened and help people take steps to look after their home, as well update the person who was burgled?
PCSOs cannot arrest people but I do of course work closely with and support my police officer colleagues, for example, managing crime scenes, gathering intelligence and dealing with evidence. A number of times we’ve been part of larger teams searching for missing people and we use our local knowledge to co-ordinate with our colleagues across Southwark and Lambeth.
It's an incredibly fulfilling job and the time so far has flown by.
What made you want to become a PCSO?
I’ve lived in London for nearly 40 years and I applied to become a PCSO as I believe I can make a positive difference to many of its communities. I enjoy meeting new people and being a beneficial part of their day, so it seemed like the ideal job to combine my desire to help people and make best use of my interpersonal skills.
There’s a wide range of different jobs available in the Met and you don’t have to have a degree to join.
What do you love about the job?
For me, the most fulfilling part of the job is face-to-face community engagement; it’s a huge part of the PCSO role. The ward I’m responsible for in Faraday, in Peckham, south London, has a diverse mix of private housing, council estates, schools, places of worship, local shops and businesses, intermingled with massive regeneration projects, all near or surrounding Burgess Park.
I want to meet and talk to different people, to build key relationships and understand local issues. Even if someone is shouting at me, which can sometimes happen, I want to help and make life that little bit better for them. By fully immersing myself in the local community, I can play my part in building a local intelligence picture and help to detect and prevent crime.
What’s been the most memorable moment of your time in the Met so far?
Hands down, the most memorable moment so far was reuniting a two year old child with their parents. Working with colleagues, we got there quickly and thankfully, there was a happy ending. It was incredibly satisfying, emotional and I did shed a tear or two of joy.
As Peter says, the Met has a wide range of different jobs available and you don’t need to have a degree to join. Find out more about becoming a PCSO and what the initial training involves on the Met’s website.