THE county’s police and crime commissioner has defended her record amid a rise in recorded crime and major cuts to the force.

Recorded crime in Sussex excluding fraud rose by 7.9 per cent over the latest year and over the past six years fell by half as much as it did in the rest of the country.

Crime rates as well as the cuts to neighbourhood policing due to government budget cuts are likely to be key issues in the upcoming police and crime commissioner (PCC) election.

The post was created in 2012 to hold the chief constable to account for the performance of the police force and set the police’s budget.

Katy Bourne, who is running for re-election on May 5, said any increase in recorded crime did not necessarily reflect an increase in actual crime.

She said: “I have welcomed an increase in reporting around certain crime types, particularly domestic abuse, the reporting of hate crime, serious sexual offences and child abuse, so we will have an increase in reporting.

“That is not to be confused with an increase in crime. Just because there is some reports of these areas, it does not mean more crimes are out there.”

Her Labour opponent for the job, Councillor Michael Jones, questioned that premise, saying: “My feeling about recorded crime is always beware a public official who says that things have changed because of the way they count things.

"Police and government change the way they count crime every few years.”

Commissioner Katy Bourne earns £85,000 and with a team of staff her office's total wages bill last year was £809,297 including £71,208 for her head of public engagement and communications and £84,642 for her chief executive and monitoring officer.

Overall her office costs including those salaries was £1.374 million last year.

Asked whether it were possible to get an accurate picture of crime figures given the problems in recording, Mrs Bourne said crime recording was now 97 per cent accurate, compared to 82 per cent two years ago, before government inspectors forced a change.

The Argus reported in 2014 how the force’s chief constable Giles York put a one-third rise in recorded violent crimes following that review down to officers under-recording them in the past.

Latest figures published by Mrs Bourne’s office show that crimes per 1,000 people in Sussex increased by five per cent over the past year.

Opponents have also questioned how effective Mrs Bourne has been in pushing back against cuts to the police budget from the Tory government, which means the force plans to cut up to 500 police officers and 500 other staff by 2020.

“Because she is a Conservative politician she does not want to embarrass the government,” said Liberal Democrat candidate, Dr James Walsh. “I think that is part of the problem,” he said.

Godfrey Daniel, who opposed Mrs Bourne at the 2012 election, said the role of overseeing the police should involve more voices, such as in its predecessor the Police Authority, which was made up of political councillors.

He said: “I have never heard a critical word from our PCC against the government and its cuts. The previous Police Authority had a balance of elected councillors.”

Matt Webb, chairman of the Sussex Police Federation, which represents police officers and has campaigned against the cuts, said it did not think the commissioner should be a party political post.

Mrs Bourne said the budget cuts from government were not as bad as first feared, adding: “I am very aware of the impact on officers so the chief constable is working really hard to make sure that the new policing model is fit for purpose.”

Graham Cox, the former Sussex detective chief superintendent and Tory councillor, said he thought Mrs Bourne had been a “very good” commissioner.

He added: “Her name has certainly become better known to the people of Sussex than the previous chairman or woman of the Police Authority.

“There does need to be a democratically elected figure who is in charge that does need to be voted in or out; in that sense there is greater accountability.”


WHEN the police and crime commissioner role was created in 2012, the aim was to sweep away the indirectly elected board that made decisions about local policing in dingy council rooms and replace it with a figurehead to be the public’s voice in policing. 

Home Secretary Theresa May argued that since only “seven per cent of people” knew what the police authority was, how could it possibly convey their concerns to the police? 

Since the days of the first police and crime commissioner (PCC) election in November 2012, when only 15 per cent of voters went to the polls, the profile of the role has certainly increased, albeit sometimes due to scandals among PCCs elsewhere in the country. 

No one could accuse the Conservatives’ Sussex PCC Katy Bourne of trying to keep a low profile. She is often out at public meetings and just as often in the local press (one justification, she argues, for her communication’s chief’s salary of £71,028; only £14,000 less than her own). 

Overall her office’s costs of £1.374 million during 2014/15 is a slightly above-inflation increase on the £1.184 million cost of the police authority in its final year and included £809,297 on salaries. 

Her office also spent more than £3 million on commissioning community safety, victim support and restorative justice services, which were not part of the police authority’s role. 

Asked about her achievements, Mrs Bourne often highlights the commissions she has set up for the youth and the elderly, which involves talking to people of those age groups about what they would like to change in policing and asking police to act on it. 

She adds that she has held police to account, citing their strategy towards travellers, fracking and raves as examples of changes they have made after she has challenged them. 

Yet criticism that she has gone native persists, with James Walsh, the former chairman of the police authority and now Liberal Democrat candidate for her job, promising to “aim to be the voice of the community in Sussex Police, rather than the voice of Sussex Police in the community”.

That was a problem for the police authority, said former top officer and Tory councillor Graham Cox, recalling his own time in the force.

He said: “The attitude at the senior level was that they [the police authority] were not exactly feared; put it this way – they were people you could get on side very, very easily.”

Questions over Mrs Bourne’s willingness to challenge her party are also particularly important at a time when residents and officers are noticing the cuts to neighbourhood police brought about by Tory government budget cuts.

A total of 40 per cent of police community support officers (PCSOs) are being cut as is the number of police officers within neighbourhood policing teams, by more than two thirds from 391 to 132. Sussex Police are giving PCSOs new powers to help plug those gaps and this week opened recruitment for those roles.

Supporters say it will help police to be more flexible, while many in the force fear it will harm relations between communities and the police. 

Mrs Bourne has supported the move, telling the public on Wednesday she was sure it would be “well received” and showed commitment to investing in the front line. 

But it is clear PCCs are also to be measured on whether crime has gone down on their watch.

The Home Secretary claimed they have presided over “a reduction in crime of more than a quarter since their introduction”. 

This is one reason getting an accurate picture of crime rates is important and why officials' insistence that crime only looks as if it is going up should, as candidate Michael Jones suggests, be eyed warily.


ELECTIONS for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner are due to take place in 40 days from today, on May 5.

The Government is hoping for a better turnout than last year when roughly 15 per cent of the people in Sussex and nationally went to the polls.

All major parties have said they plan to field candidates. 

The Conservatives' Katy Bourne will face competition from Labour's Michael Jones, the Liberal Democrats' Dr James Walsh, Ukip's Patrick Lowe and the Green Party's James Doyle. Independent Matthew Taylor has also announced his intention to run.

The role is open to anyone over 18 who is on the electoral roll of one of the districts or boroughs in East or West Sussex, or Brighton and Hove.

Candidates need to have the backing of 100 local electors and provide a £5,000 deposit before their nominations are accepted. Police officers and council employees cannot run.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We introduced Police and Crime Commissioners to replace invisible, ineffective and unaccountable police authorities.

"Directly-elected PCCs hold forces to account and give people a real say in how their communities are policed.

“More than 5.8 million votes have been cast for police and crime commissioners in total - 5.8 million more votes than were ever received by police authorities."

The closing date for nominations to stand as candidates in the elections is 4pm on April 7.

MICHAEL JONES is a member of the Sussex Police and Crime Panel, which scrutinises the decisions of the PCC, and is Crawley borough council's cabinet member for public protection.

He said: “There are currently falling numbers of arrests as Sussex Police numbers decline, at a time that the county’s crime rate is rising. We can do better."

West Sussex County Councillor DR JAMES WALSH was a member of the former Sussex Police Authority from 1989 to 2005, its vice-chairman from 1993-95, and chairman from 2005-2007.

He said: "What most of our residents want and deserve, from Sussex Police's own research, is visible community policing by neighbourhood police and PCSOs in all our towns and villages, paid for by the Home Office and local police tax.

"That is what I will campaign on, and what I will incessantly lobby government and MPs for on behalf of Sussex."

PATRICK LOWE lives in Brighton and runs his own photocopier business.

He said: "The public want the police back on the streets. Get the bobby back on the beat, that’s what I intend to deliver.”

JAMES DOYLE is the only Green councillor on Worthing borough council; he has also served on West Sussex County Council and the board of Sussex Probation.


Commissioner Katy Bourne: £85,000.

Chief executive and monitoring officer Mark Streater: £84,642.

Chief finance officer Carl Rushbridge: £81,760

Mervin Dadd: Head of public engagement and communications: £71,028

Total annual salary costs last year: £809,297. 

Other roles in the office between April 2014 and March 2015 (full-time equivalent in brackets):

Senior governance manager (part time)

Performance and information manager 

Governance and monitoring officers: two full time, one part time

Senior corporate and digital communications manager 

Campaigns and content creation manager 

Executive assistant and office manager 

Correspondence and administration clerk 

Senior policy officer

Public engagement and communications officer