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Cuts take top Sussex Police detectives away from Brighton rape inquiry
Sussex's top detectives are working on a Surrey case instead of investigating the unsolved gang rape of a teenager on Brighton seafront because of cuts.
The force’s policy is for so-called “stranger one rapes”, where victims do not know their attackers, to be investigated by major crime team detectives.
But The Argus can reveal officers have instead been called away to support their new colleagues in Surrey Police in the investigation into the shooting of a family in the Alps.
The murders took place on September 5 and sparked an international investigation.
The Brighton case happened early on September 7 and is being investigated by Brighton and Hove CID detectives.
In a paper delivered to Sussex Police Authority in June last year, chief constable Martin Richards said: “The investigations of all stranger one rapes are now retained within the major crime branch.”
That unit was then merged with Surrey Police’s equivalent in a £7.18 million savings scheme which also saw firearms and scientific support units come together as part of a £50 million cuts programme
It is understood that major crime officers do have supervision of the Brighton investigation and the detectives are in regular contact.
Detective Chief Inspector Nick Sloan said local detectives were equipped to deal with rape.
He said: “There are examples of murder, attempted murder and rape that have been dealt with very effectively by experienced divisional officers with major crime team oversight.
“It’s all about who is best placed to give the best service to the victim at the time.”
She said she had been “reassured” that the inquiry was “progressing well”, but said: “I remain concerned about the effect of government cuts on policing.
“Frontline services for vulnerable people are the cost of the govern- ment’s reckless austerity drive.”
A 19-year-old woman was raped on Brighton beach by two men as a third man stood nearby early on September 7.
The woman, who was visiting from Kent and staying in a hotel, was grabbed as she walked between Coalition nightclub in Kings Road Arches and Regency Square between midnight and 2.30am.
Brighton and Hove detectives are trawling through CCTV footage, some of which shows the woman’s movements on the night.
But the officers have not identified any suspects.
They returned to the scene early on Friday morning to speak to people who are regularly in the area at that time of the week, but did not make a breakthrough.
The men are believed to be in their 30s and possibly Eastern
Officers are appealing for anyone who saw a woman in a black dress with one flip-flop on to contact them.
Anyone with information about the rape is asked to call 101, quoting serial 101 of September 7, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.