Sussex Police is ‘strengthening’ again after being on the brink of losing nearly 500 officers, according to the Sussex Police and Crime Commission.
Katy Bourne revealed the figure in response to concerns put forward by Horsham Labour Party about the amount of visible police out on the beat in the town and surrounding areas.
At a meeting last week she was quizzed by Horsham Labour Party secretary Karen Symes about the issue.
In a written response the PCC said: “I understand the importance that the residents of Sussex place on police visibility and community engagement.
“This is the main reason I have continued to carefully monitor the implementation of the Local Policing Programme (LPP), articulating community concerns as the changes unfolded. The LPP is intended to create a modern workforce, of highly trained officers and staff, who are able to respond dynamically to the needs of the public and the changing types of crime, based on threat, risk and harm.
“I am pleased to confirm that neighbourhood policing officers are now spending 41% of their time proactively working in local communities, compared to just 16% that was possible as part of the previous structure.
“I have continued to hold the Chief Constable to account for the delivery of the LPP in respect of numbers, timescales and public engagement at my monthly webcast Performance & Accountability Meetings (PAMs).
“For most of 2017, Sussex Police was still facing substantial funding reductions, projected to result in 476 fewer officers over the next four years.
“The lifting of the precept cap by Government at the end of the year, combined with a funding settlement and my decision to release £17m of reserves, means that Sussex Police is now investing in and strengthening local policing – re-establishing the visibility and reassurance that communities have been telling me is so important to them. As a result, Sussex Police has now embarked on a large recruitment drive so that, by 2022, Sussex will have 200 more police officers than it currently does now. It will take some time for the investment to flow through into extra officers and better services but the groundwork put in over the past year by the Chief Constable and his team means that Sussex Police can scale up their Prevention, Response and Investigation capability so that the public feel a difference in Sussex, including our rural areas.
“The Chief Constable published his Sussex Police 2018/22 Transformation Strategy in April 2018 which sets out how the Force will use the additional funding to modernise and strengthen local policing in Sussex. This additional investment in local policing will ensure that local residents and those visiting Sussex can feel safe at home, in public spaces, at night time, and on the roads.
“The LPP is a scalable model and can therefore flex as resources change. Now that the Strategy has been launched, I will monitor progress made against the delivery of the Strategy and challenge, where appropriate, at my monthly PAMs.
“The Strategy was one of the areas that I raised with the Chief Constable at my PAMs on 20 April and 21 September 2018. These sessions are archived and can be viewed on my website through the following link: www.sussexpcc.gov.uk/get-involved/webcasting/”