Chief Constable Giles York has scrapped 500 planned job cuts and is to recruit 200 new officers. The police force in the city has lost 1/5 of it’s officers and over half of it’s PCSO’s in seven years. The money for the new jobs comes from an above-inflation 7.8% rise in council tax, pushed through by the Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne. The increase means taxpayers will pay £12 more per year injecting £8.5 million into the police force. The increase is only £1 more per month for taxpayers and after years of cuts for Sussex police, and police forces across the country, the new officers will be a welcome addition in the eyes of York. Chief Constable Giles York said “over the last few years, we have dealt with significant challenges created by the financial constraints in which the force has found itself. This has meant difficult decisions have had to be made resulting in fewer people than we had before. Some areas of policing are stretched due to increasing demand and a change in the complexity of what we deal with. This change in our financial position has created an exciting opportunity to strengthen areas where it is needed most”.
The Chief Constable has brought in reforms designed to tackle the reducing number of officers to ensure that the work needed to be done is achieved as efficiently as possible. The force was at 3,212 officers, 2,155 staff and 377 PCSO’s by the end of March 2010 but at the end of the same month last year, the numbers were down to 2,857 officers, 1,831 staff and 180 PCSO’s, signifying a marked decrease in officers available on the streets. York stated “since 2010 we have transformed and modernised significantly while saving nearly £90 million to balance the books and maintain service delivery. Up until January 2018, we needed to save a further £26 million by 2022. As a result of the new precept uplift I am now in a position to signal an exciting step change for the future. Our determination to push forward with substantial change, collaboration and technologically driven improvements is undiminished. This improved financial landscape allows us to strengthen key areas to meet increasing demand and new challenges…We still need to save a further £3 million. The precept increase, together with the release of reserves of £17 million, allows us to strengthen local policing in a way we couldn’t have planned for before – and to do so immediately.”
Sussex Police Federation chairman Matt Webb said last week that he welcomed more help for officers but that the extra job roles would not be compensation for the amount of jobs that have been lost. The proposed plans by York call for officers to join investigation teams to tackle burglaries as well as organised crime and he argued that by increasing visibility and community awareness, the police will be able to respond to victims more effectively. The plan is to enable local prevention resources and to improve ways for the public to contact police about non-emergency matters. Mr York stated that officers need ”the right skills and tools to respond to the increasingly complex policing challenges they face, such as automatic number plate recognition technology in all frontline vehicles, to support aims to reduce injuries on the road and fight crime”.
There will be an enormous recruitment drive over the next four years on a scale that hasn’t been seen in Sussex policing for a long time. The force are just one of countless teams across the country who have felt the tory cuts run deep. The country is in a state of turmoil in terms of government and council funding and it’s the citizens that feel it too, Mr York assured that he does not “underestimate the impact a tax rise will have on people and so [he is] absolutely determined that the public will see and feel a difference locally in the service we provide with this money.”