'Dedicated' PCSO retires after 12 years amid force funding cuts

Annie Austin, an Ely PCSO

Annie Austin, an Ely PCSO for more than 12 years, is taking early retirement following funding cuts at Cambridgeshire Constabulary. - Credit: POLICING EAST CAMBS FACEBOOK

An Ely PCSO for more than 12 years is taking early retirement amid funding cuts at Cambridgeshire Constabulary that aim to save £1.7 million.

PCSO Annie Austin declaring State 11 for the final time comes after Cambridgeshire chief constable Nick Dean announced last October that PCSO numbers would be slashed and a community safety team abolished this year.

Ely PCSO Annie Austin retires

Annie Austin (front left), an Ely PCSO for more than 12 years, is taking early retirement following funding cuts at Cambridgeshire Constabulary. - Credit: POLICING EAST CAMBS FACEBOOK

He said at the time that the number of PCSOs would be halved from 80 to 40 - but guaranteed at least one in “every single neighbourhood”.

Mr Dean added that the force would receive a proportion of 20,000 extra police officers promised by the government but said Cambridgeshire “also needs to make considerable cost savings to avoid using financial reserves”.

Having helped colleagues solve crimes, dealt with neighbourhood disputes and located vulnerable missing people, PCSO Annie Austin is retiring tomorrow (Wednesday April 21).

Pupils at King’s Ely Acremont were taught a lesson in safety

Pupils at King’s Ely Acremont were taught a lesson in safety by two of Ely’s Police Community Support Officers. Annie Austin is pictured on the left. - Credit: King’s Ely Acremont


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She said: "Much has changed in my 12-and-a-half-years and our numbers have dwindled, making the role more challenging over time but evolving in a positive way too.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my role supporting and advising the various parish and town councils, neighbourhood watch coordinators, schools, businesses, the rural communities and everyone else I have failed to mention.

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"Your support of our work has been remarkable and I have made many wonderful friends along the way.

PCSO Annie Austin visited Millfield Primary School in Littleport

PCSO Annie Austin visited Millfield Primary School in Littleport recently to help with a school project about a crashed 'UFO', here she is conducting initial investigations! - Credit: POLICING EAST CAMBS

"As you will be aware, COVID-19 and its restrictions has meant I have not been able to visit many of you for some time now, but I wish you well and hopefully as the restrictions lessen, life may return to normal very soon.

"I’m just sorry not to have said goodbye in person.

So once again, thank you for welcoming me over the years. It has been my greatest pleasure to have served you all."

A post on the Policing East Cambs Facebook page reads: "Annie has experienced everything from the belligerent to the kind and thoughtful. 

"We would like to thank Annie for her hard work and dedication to the role. We wish you all the best for the future."

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