Sussex Police criticised for cuts to frontline officers as number of burglaries and sex offences rise (From The Argus)
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Sussex Police criticised for cuts to frontline officers as number of burglaries and sex offences rise
Cut-backs to frontline police officers in Sussex could result in services to the public suffering, a report warned yesterday.
The report said the Sussex Police force is failing to keep hold of its “front-line crime-fighters”.
Police watchdog the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) criticised Sussex Police for being one of only three forces planning to cut back the overall proportion of frontline officers - those who deal directly with the public - as it attempts to save £52 million by 2015.
The disappointing report was released at the same time as annual figures from the Home Office revealed although overall recorded crime had fallen across Sussex this year, serious crimes such as burglaries, sexual offices and violence with injury.
The figures show burglaries from homes had increased by 16%. Reports of sexual offences during the same period were also up by six percent from the year before with 1,556 people in Sussex claiming they were victims in the period.
Overall the force received 91,064 reports of crime.
The number of people who had suffered violence with injury and reported it to Sussex Police had increased by four percent.
The HMIC report said there were “early indications the service to the public might start to diminish” as Sussex Police slashed frontline police roles - something Chief Constable of Sussex Martin Richards disputed.
He hit back at the HMIC report saying it was “overly simplistic,” adding: “Judge us by service not by numbers alone”.
Sussex Police aim to slash 271 jobs to save money.
Figures released yesterday (July 18) revealed Sussex Police had 2,876 officers, 342 PCSOs and 364 special constables.
Zoë Billingham, from the HMIC, said: “It is commendable that despite all the changes it has made a high proportion of Sussex residents feel as safe or safer than they did two years ago.
“However, there are early indications the service to the public might be starting to diminish.
“Over the past two years Sussex has reduced crime at a substantially lower rate than most other forces.
“In addition there has been a significant decline in the number of emergency and priority calls the force gets to on time.
“Sussex Police faces a more difficult financial challenge than many other forces.
“It has lower costs than most forces, so it has had to work hard to identify additional efficiencies in order to reduce its costs further.
Mr Richards responded: “We are not complacent about the issues that this report raises, but officer numbers alone are not the real issue.
“They don't take account of the role that police staff and other officers play in fighting modern day crime.
“What is important to me is what we do for the people of Sussex and how they feel about the service we provide.”
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