POLICE in Darlington have launched an initiative aimed at bringing them closer to the communities they serve.

The aim is for Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) to spend at least one shift a month at one of the borough’s 300 charities, support groups and other community organisations.

Inspector Mick Button launched the initiative on Thursday (February 13), by attending a lunch club at Firthmoor Community Centre.

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He said the idea behind the scheme is not that PCSOs will spend the shift ‘working for’ the various organisations, but use the time to engage with sections of the community that regular PACT (police and communities together) meetings may not reach.

Insp Button said: “This is an opportunity to meet with the different, diverse parts of the community.

“It is not that we are giving [the charities] a day’s work out of our PCSOs, it’s about community engagement.

“For example, I was talking to a group of elderly ladies at the lunch club and finding out about issues in their area.

“It is a chance to interact with those groups that we would not normally get a chance to sit with.”