SOUTH Yorkshire's new police chief has promised that police will not be removed from frontline duties and replaced with support staff amid a media furore.

Chief Constable David Crompton presented a report to the South Yorkshire Police Authority last week which prompted a media storm due to one section which suggested that PCSOs should become 'local beat officers' and be the first line of contact for communities.

But David said the media coverage was 'a storm in a teacup' and that the only intention was to give PCSOs more powers than they have at the moment to allow them to better tackle low level crime.

He said: "We aren't taking police officers away from areas they work, they will still be working in the same areas they have worked in previously, dealing with problems in the same streets, in the same communities.

"They will still be working in the same areas, they will not be stuck away in some police station somewhere."

"If somebody needs a police officer, they will get one, in the same way they always have.

"Our proposal is that we enhance their powers so that they can deal with more incidents that don't require a police constable with the powers of arrest."

The main aim, the report said, was that communities had a more consisitent cover and were not left without any officers when police were taken away to deal with major operations.

It points out that for low level, community-based crime like anti-social behaviour PCSOs are better placed to police it.

The proposal to give PCSOs more powers will be discussed in future meetings.