Sussex Police Federation has outlined “a bleak future” for the force in the face of cuts, as it launched its #CutsHaveConsequences campaign today (June 4).
With £106 million cuts to police funding in Sussex- the public will rarely see a Bobby on the Beat, the Federation said.
Matt Webb, chairman of Sussex Police Federation, said, “The public’s police force is reducing. We need police officers on the ground to patrol in our communities and to keep people safe.
“We need them to fight online crime, child sexual exploitation and extremism. The threat to people is real and yet the police service is being torn apart.
“This is not scaremongering, it is facts. The force has shrunk by 11 per cent over the same period that the population of Sussex has grown by 10 per cent.
“We want to provide people with the world class policing they deserve, but thanks to £50 million cuts since 2010 and a further £56 million cuts to be delivered between 2015 and 2020 we will simply be unable to do so.
“How can our hardworking police force continue to protect the public with so few resources?”
He said officer numbers are falling in Sussex Police, crime is up and public safety is being put at risk thanks to budget cuts.
Officer numbers in Sussex have fallen by 419 – down from 3,212 in 2010 - and there are fears that the force will lose at least another 500 police officers over the next four years.
The Federation has spoken out as part of its #CutsHaveConsequences campaign. The campaign will highlight the consequences of cuts to policing budgets in Sussex and what they will mean to the tax-paying public.
Where are the effects of these cuts mainly being felt? In neighbourhood teams - the lifeblood of policing. The men and women on the front line of protecting people, their families, their homes and their businesses from crime.Matt Webb, chairman of Sussex Police Federation
Mr Webb added, “Where are the effects of these cuts mainly being felt? In neighbourhood teams - the lifeblood of policing. The men and women on the front line of protecting people, their families, their homes and their businesses from crime.
“The number of officers working in communities have been drastically reduced. These officers are the heartbeat of policing, linking in and gaining the trust and confidence of local communities.
“There is a plan to allow policing to continue into the future but the size of the cuts means that it will look and feel very different from the police service the people of Sussex have come to expect and the one that they deserve.
“Things aren’t right. The public pay for policing - but they are being short changed.”
The Federation outlines other consequences of cuts in Sussex Police:
- Crime is up in the county. Total recorded crime up 3.22 per cent. Violence against a person up 37.12 per cent. Sexual offences up 26.58 per cent
- The Specialist Search Unit is being disbanded from the beginning of June 2015
- Response times have risen. Percentage of emergency calls on target in 2010/11 85.0 per cent and in 2013/14 it was 83.4 per cent
- Numbers in neighbourhood policing teams will fall
- The force is moving towards answering calls online and over the phone, rather than face to face contact.
- Police officer assaults are increasing - from 467 in 2013 to 560 in 2014 – as officers are increasing isolated from their colleagues and back up.
Mr Webb said, “We need our police force to be properly resourced so we can give the best service we can to our communities.
“Our members work hard and they want to do an excellent job. But they are telling us that cutting their numbers is having a detrimental effect on their ability to do everything that is asked of them.
“If the public, want to preserve their police service, please tell politicians of all parties at all levels. In person, in writing, on email, on social media. Tell them you want and deserve a well-resourced police service with sufficient police officers to protect your families, homes and businesses.
“It is not too late. You have a proud police service, but once it’s gone it’s gone. People have a voice and if they want to preserve their local police force, they need to make it heard.”
SUSSEX POLICE RESPONSE
Deputy chief constable Olivia Pinkney said, “The changes to the force will be significant but I am confident that new and effective ways of working will provide services where they are most needed.
“Matt Webb is right, we will be a smaller force but we will be working efficiently by embracing technology and multi-agency working, reducing costs and engaging with the public in the best way we can.
“I can assure you that public safety is our absolute priority. Yes, we need officers to fight online crime, child sexual exploitation and extremism but that isn’t by putting them on the beat. Our new model sees us working differently and more efficiently, and not responding to every small thing that comes to our door.
“Key to our success in building our capability to detect and prevent crime is by working even closer with the community and partners. For example, we have reviewed the work of the Specialist Search Unit and have chosen to disband this and make use of partner organisations such as fire and rescue services when needed. It makes sense.
“Sussex Police is a 24/7 emergency service which will always focus on the needs of those who are most vulnerable. As such we have protected our response teams so that you can be assured that in times of need we will be there.
“Matt talks of recorded crime increasing but I am confident, following call analysis, that this does not mean a real increase in crime, but a rise in the general standard of crime and incident recording and an increased confidence in victims to report both historic and recent offences.
“I appreciate it is an unsettling time and we are working closely with staff associations to keep them informed and enable feedback. We support officers and staff in many ways during these busy and challenging times.”
Savings have been made over the past five years through our estate, non-operational functions and through working closely with Surrey but with the majority of our budget spent on pay it was inevitable that there would be reduction in posts.
“The community can be assured that we will very much retain a presence in their areas. Our prevention, response and investigation teams will all be active within neighbourhoods across Sussex and there will be a named officer for every ward, local problem solving teams and partnership working. We have adapted to how people prefer to contact us and will be expanding opportunities for them to report crime and find out information online.
“Key to the success of our model is reducing the demand on officers on a day-to-day basis so that we can continue to deliver core policing. It is also essential that we build understanding with the public and our partners, so that they know what they can expect from us and the part they need to play in ensuring its success.”
In March, chief constable Giles York announced £56m savings would need to be made in the next five years, by Sussex Police.
He said 1,000 jobs would be axed, in a bid to save the cash, as a result of government spending cuts.
Sussex Police indicated there would be 700 fewer officers and support staff, with another 300 staff to go from elsewhere in the force.
The comes after five years of budget cuts, as Sussex Police had to make £50m savings in the past five years.
“I am starkly aware that there will be a lot of public interest in how this will affect them and I am also aware that some will experience a reduction in some parts of policing that are very dear to them,” said Mr York.
“We will continue to prioritise crimes that cause the greatest harm to victims and the community such as harmful anti-social behaviour incidents. “Although we will be smaller, I am confident that we will provide an effective service by adopting new ways of working, reducing wasted effort and improving productivity that will help us meet competing demands while continuing to protect our community.”
He said the force would make sure there is a higher police presence in ‘high crime’ areas, but moved to reassure the public that police will always respond quickly in an emergency.
There will structural changes in the force, which will see officers cover all of Sussex, rather than just one patch, but there will be a named point of contact for the public in every ward in Sussex.
A range of changes were announced, including a new ‘resolution centre’ which will see problems solved over the phone or online by officers, rather than callers having to wait several days for an officer to visit them.
Officers will also be equipped with mobile phones which will allow them to do admin tasks on the move, rather than dealing with paper work at the station.
The chief constable said there will be more collaboration with Surrey Police, but ruled out a merger with the neighbouring force in the near future.
There was also a focus on tackling cyber-crime and child sex exploitation, and the force said it has invested in these areas and would continue to have specialist teams dealing with these issues.
Mr York said, “The world we live in is changing and will continue to do so, including the crimes people commit. Our new model, which will be implemented in stages over the next four years, shapes our service so we are best equipped to meet emerging threats, within our financial constraints.”
Find out more about the #CutsHaveConsequences campaign:
Sussex Police Federation represents frontline police officers in the region.
You can find out more about the group and its campaign, at sussexpolfed.org/cuts_have_consequences/
There will also be campaign adverts on buses and billboards across the policing area and regular updates on the Federation’s Twitter account @SusPolFed.
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