Police community support officers play a "vital" role in Hertfordshire, according to a senior police official.

On Thursday, a report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said that in the UK, PCSOs or neighbourhood officers were being asked "to visit the location of a crime and, in some cases, to investigate the crime."

It added: "HMIC does not recommend the use of PCSOs to investigate crimes; we do see a clear reassurance, crime prevention and deterrent role for them."

However, Colin Connolly, head of corporate communications at Hertfordshire Constabulary confirmed that PCSOs did play a big role in investigations in the county, but said they worked alongside other police officers.

He said: "A while back, in Wheathampstead, there was a spate of criminal damage and graffiti. The local PCSO, because they were out and about in the town, went and got hold of some CCTV from a local shop.

"From that, he could see the offender committing the offence and although he did not recognise them, he recognised two of the other youths with them. 

"They were then able to establish that the offender came from outside of town and were then able to get a name and address.

"A police officer then went round and arrested and charged the youth."