COMMUNITY support officers form an 'integral' part of the policing family, a police chief has said.

Inspector Gareth Cust, of the North Flintshire policing team, said PCSOs have supported communities across the whole of North Wales for several years.

He said: "I was concerned by comments published regarding PCSOs in the Shotton area. I wanted to point out that for the last 15 years PCSOs have formed an integral part of North Wales Police and have supported communities across North Wales.

"In our own area, PCSOs have been instrumental in tackling anti-social behaviour, providing intelligence and problem solving. Two of our own PCSOs in Deeside last week were instrumental in assisting officers to apprehend burglary suspects in the Aston Hill area.

"PCSOs will continue to be instrumental in tackling our community issues and providing an integral part of the policing family locally."

Inspector Cust said although a PCSO does not have specific powers to arrest, they attract powers in line with the officers role and responsibility - providing the ability to detain offenders to allow time for officers arrival.

He said: "

I'm not aware of any situations where PSCOs have had to let an offender go due to the none availability of an officer."

This follows on from concerns made at Shotton town council's monthly meeting over one PCSO appointed to the area.

Cllr Tom Oldfield said he was not a lover of PCSOs as they have no power of arrest.

He added: "They have got the same power as an officer but for some reason they push with PCSOs. All they can do is detain them for half an hour and hope the officer gets there on time. That's why we have seen an increase in crime, it's ridiculous."

Inspector Cust said PCSOs are treated as a team for the whole of the Deeside area.

He said: "We can't say if there has been a rise in anti-social behaviour, we will have to check those figures nationally, but it's more highlighted these days. Twenty years ago it wasn't dealt with.

"In response to what councillors said to there being one PCSO in the whole of Shotton, our approach is that it is a team. As well as two dedicated PCSOs for Shotton, there may be some dedicated in Queensferry and Connah's Quay, there are PCSOs based in Deeside.

"They are in turn supported by Safer Neighbourhood Team constables and sergeants who are then in turn supported by response policing team in Deeside. Everyone carries each other."