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Headgear may or may not display the force crest, some have a metal shield, usually blue, stating "community support officer" followed below with the name of the wearers respective force in smaller letters.
Some newer versions of such shields have the wearers respective force crest printed on them The band on the hat is a silver reflective band with blue edging, a plain blue band or a black and white sillitoe tartan chequered band.
PCSOs are trained in a variety of tasks, including: radio procedure; report writing; dealing with evidence; going to court; gathering intelligence; managing a crime scene; usage of PCSO powers under the Police Reform Act 2002 and any person powers; use of force; human rights; race and diversity; traffic direction and cordon manning; general health and safety; self-defence (including restraint techniques and the use of handcuffs or leg restraints if used by their force); and first aid.
Written examinations are usually performed during training.
The current ACPO guidance states that "PCSOs should be recognisable to the public as police staff, but visibly distinct from regular police officers".
Two PCSOs (right) of the City of London Police with two Police Constables keeping order during a protest outside The Church of Scientology in London.
PCSOs were introduced in September 2002 and first recruited by the Metropolitan Police.
Surrey Police and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) give their Traffic PCSOs (who are part of GMP's Road Policing Unit (RPU)) white covered caps in the same style as Traffic Police Officers.
The Police Reform Act 2002 does not apply to Scotland, which consequently does not have PCSOs.
In Scotland, PCSO stands for police custody and security officers, also known by the slang nickname "turnkeys", At their prior peak in 2009, 16,814 PCSOs were employed.
Female PCSOs wear bowler hats contain foam padding as protection.
Some forces have unique hat designs for PCSOs which are different from the more common styles such as those worn by the City of London Police PCSOs who adhere to the force's tradition of red detailing, red banding, and a red shield.) PCSOs wear black baseball caps with a blue band with "police support" written in both English and Welsh.