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Sussex Police to have fewest frontline officers in the country
Sussex Police will have fewer frontline officers than any other police force in the country under its £50 million cuts programme.
The estimate was made by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) on a day when three other forces were said to be “at risk”.
Officers’ representatives said deep cuts will affect the ability of police to fight crime.
Sussex Police is in its second year of a programme to cut about £50 million – 16% of the budget it enjoyed in 2010.
The force is expected to have lost a total of 470 officers by 2015.
That is 15% of officers, compared to a 10% fall elsewhere.
HMIC said that by 2015 the proportion of officers and staff in frontline roles – dealing with the public, keeping people safe or enforcing the law – in Sussex would fall to 65%, compared to the 74% national average, and a |lower proportion than in any other force.
Inspectors found crime in the county increased slightly in 2011.
In its nationwide review of the effects of cuts, HMIC said there was a risk Devon and Cornwall Police, Lincolnshire Police and the Metropolitan Police “may not be able to provide a sufficiently efficient or effective service for the public in the future”.
Previous HMIC reports have said that cutting more than 12% of budgets would affect frontline policing.
After reviewing the position in Sussex, Zoe Billingham, HM Inspector of Constabulary, said the cuts here were “realistic and achievable” but warned: “However, Sussex Police is cutting a higher percentage of police officer posts than most other forces, and by 2015, the proportion of its total workforce in frontline roles will be lower than in any other force.
“As they work to deliver their financial plans Sussex Police will therefore need to focus on both increasing and making the best possible use of its frontline, crime-fighting resources, which will help it to bring its crime levels in line with other forces.”
Mark White, secretary of Sussex Police Federation, said: “For the last 18 months we have expressed concerns about the effect the cuts would have on frontline policing. The HMIC report appears to endorse what we in the federation have been saying.”
Chief Constable Martin Richards said in a statement that year-on-year crime is currently down by 8%.
He said that the way numbers of frontline staff are counted vary in different forces. He said: “We are confident that our plans will ensure our people are delivering the best possible service to the public in the future.”
HMIC inspects police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.