A PETITION has been launched to save a frontline policing service after Hampshire County Council announced plans to shut it down.

The county council has announced that subject to discussions with the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire, Simon Hayes, bosses plan to cut the Accredited Community Safety Service (ASCO) by December 31.

According to Hampshire County Council, there are significant overlaps between the service, which is funded by the authority, and the work delivered by Hampshire Constabulary’s Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).

Hampshire was the first county in the country to introduce the scheme in 2004. It now employs 33 full-time equivalent staff.

The ACSO service offers a non-emergency service, providing highly visible patrols from officers in marked vans and on foot to provide a reassuring presence in the community.

Councillor Paul Harvey, deputy leader of the Basingstoke's Labour group and the party’s candidate for Basingstoke MP in 2015, said the party has started an online petition calling for the service to be retained.

The petition currently has nearly 100 signatures, and the party will be circulating a paper petition for residents to sign in the coming weeks.

 Cllr Harvey said: “Our point of view is that the uniformed officers have been doing such a good job in the community – building up relationships with young people and neighbourhoods across Hampshire, working alongside the police – and now they are going to get scrapped.

“If you talk to people, they want good policing and people want to see them doing their work.”

Conservative borough council leader Cllr Clive Sanders said: “Being and feeling safe – either at home or out and about – is one of the top priorities in ensuring a good quality of life for our residents.

“If Hampshire County Council decides to withdraw its side of the service, we will not allow the safety of our residents to be affected and will take whatever measures are necessary to ensure the effectiveness of our community safety patrol team is maintained."