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Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner

See also our page on cuts to Police Community Support Officers

28th April 2017

Dear Police Commissioner, Katy Bourne,

Following a recent meeting of The Round Hill Society, Brighton, there are two important concerns we find it necessary to raise with you:

  • 1. The most recent Sussex Police Precept, included in Council Tax bills for 2017-18, indicated that spending on “front-line” policing has DECREASED by £5.6 million for police officers and £3.3 million for PCSOs since 2016/17. Spending on PCSOs has actually been reduced by a staggering 33% in one year. These reductions, however, are seen in the context of an overall INCREASE in the police budget. We note that there has been an INCREASE of £5.1 million in the category entitled “Other Spend”. We are deeply concerned about the cuts to spending on police officers and PSCOs within the overall picture of an increased police budget. What almost amounts to the decimation of our PCSO team is particularly shocking since this aspect of policing is perceived by many to have had the most direct impact on our community in recent years. Residents in 2017-18 now feel more vulnerable, less protected and less supported.
  • 2. The 101 number is offered as a means of reporting non-emergencies. According to reports from residents, it is often not possible to get through using this number without waiting for a very long time----waits of anything from 20 minutes to an hour have been experienced and, anecdotally, do not seem to be untypical. This poor service is very frustrating and deters residents from reporting crimes. This poor service may inadvertently aid criminality and lead to an inaccurate picture of the true level of crime in a given area.

We look forward to hearing from you so that we can discuss your response to our genuine fears and concerns at our May meeting.

Yours sincerely,

Sandy Thomas,
(Committee Member, Round Hill Society, Brighton.)

 

________________________________________

6th July 2017

 

Dear Ms Thomas,

Thank you for your email to the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, who has asked me to respond on her behalf. I hope this email answers your questions.

You asked for further clarification of the information in the 2017 Police precept leaflet and in particular the reference to the decline in Police Officer funding and spending in "other”.

The underlying financial position is that we need to reduce our costs if we are to balance our budget in this and future years. The cost of what we are doing is going up by £13.3m in the form of pay and price inflation, tax increases and the new Apprenticeship levy. It is estimated that the Force will need to make some £35m reductions to balance its books by 2020/21.

To meet the financial challenge the Force is redesigning, redeploying and revising what it does, when it does it and why against the backdrop of changing demands, changing crimes and demand for its services. For example, the Force is introducing Community Investigation Team officers (CIT). These are dedicated staff and mobile resources which District Commanders can draw on to address specific crimes and problems. In the six months since the additional funding was earmarked, CITs have tackled persistent burglars in West Sussex, East Sussex and Brighton and Hove.

Additionally, to balance the books the force will only be able to employ a workforce in the numbers that it can afford. To reach that position, as some officers’ leave or retire they are not being replaced reducing the headcount.

In terms of the PCC’s role in influencing the Police, the Commissioner is responsible for setting out key policy priorities and local objectives for Sussex in the Police & Crime Plan and therefore welcomes any feedback and suggestions from the public. However, the Chief Constable determines the resources and skill levels he requires and presents a business case to the PCC to consider additional funding. The Chief Constable proposed a £3m package of investments in important areas of policing including Community Investigation teams, Specialist Firearms Officers, Public Protection Investigators and Youth Teams. This package of investment results in over 100 officers and specialist staff working in those new areas. The investment package was approved by the PCC and the £3m raised from the average £5.00 increase on the precept is now ring fenced for those roles.

Further information on the local policing model can also be found at this link: https://www.sussex.police.uk/about-us/priorities-and-direction/local-policing-model/

In reference to spending in “other”, The Commissioner has a statutory duty to commission support services for victims of crime and to deliver community safety initiatives including Restorative Justice and crime reduction grants.

As set out in the Police and Crime plan, the Commissioner has outlined four principle policing and crime objectives. These include strengthening local policing, working with local communities and partners to keep Sussex safe, protecting our vulnerable members of society and helping victims cope and recover from crime and abuse, improving access to justice for victims and witnesses.

Therefore, the PCC fully supports Community Safety Partnerships across the county and has established a Community Safety Fund for projects that deliver a lasting and positive impact on the local community. The Community Safety Fund provides financial support (grant awards up to £5,000) to local organisations and projects that aim to reduce crime and improve community safety. Organisations across Sussex are welcome to bid for funding from the Safer in Sussex funding scheme and grants of up to £5,000 are available for local community groups that actively help reduce or prevent crime in Sussex.

Since launching the scheme in December 2013, almost £1.3m has been allocated to support 239 crime reduction and community safety initiatives. These range from local action groups and mentoring for ex-offenders to children's sports sessions and shelters for the homeless. It is making a real difference to local people and neighbourhoods. The high numbers that apply each time shows organisations and community groups care about, and are committed to, helping keep Sussex a safe place in which to live.

More information on the services provided can be found on our website at: https://www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk/commissioning/victims-services/

With regards to the Sussex Police 101 non emergency line, Katy Bourne is aware that there have been complaints such as yours and she has challenged the Chief Constable on this issue in their monthly Performance and Accountability meetings. Therefore I am pleased to inform you that an action plan has been developed and a dedicated team has been established to monitor and improve call handling performance. As a result, Sussex Police, report a reduction in average caller wait times with 95% of calls being answered within 5 minutes. Further information can be found via this link https://www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/3.-PAM-Minutes-24.3.2017.pdf

In order to report non emergency incidents, I would encourage you to visit the “contact us” section of the Sussex Police website as this will eliminate any waiting times and can be done via the following link https://www.sussex.police.uk/contact-us/report-online/

Thank you once again for contacting the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner.

With regards,

Louise Gilbert
Administration and Correspondence Officer
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Office

t: 01273 336839
e: Louise.Gilbert@sussex-pcc.gov. uk

My working days are: Wednesday, Thursday & Friday

This page was last updated by Ted on 30-Jul-2017
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