MP rejects police plea as ‘unhelpful’ response to cuts

HASTINGS’ MP has dismissed a Police Federation plea for her to fight Government plans to cut millions from the Sussex force.

In the wake of the riots that swept throgh parts of London recently, Sussex Police Federation, the organisation that speaks on behalf of policemen, has written to MPs urging them to “break ranks and publically speak out against the cuts to the policing budget”.

But Tory MP Amber Rudd said the federation’s view was “unhelpful”, and that she would not put her head above the parapet because Hastings police officers had reassured her frontline services will not be weakened.

“Every operation can make essential and effective cuts,” she said. “It’s unhelpful for the federation to say they cannot make savings.

“In my conversations with local police officers there has been no expectation of cuts affecting frontline services in Hastings. If the police were saying different to me, I would think differently.”

In his letter to Sussex MPs, Bob Brown, chair of the Sussex branch of the federation, said Government plans to cut 20 per cent from the national police budget over four years would create “a significant risk to public service and law and order”.

Locally, this means Sussex Police must save £52million by 2015. The details of how this cut will affect staffing in Hastings are not yet decided.

One money-saving measure is a major re-structuring of the county’s police, reported in the Observer last month. From the end of September, officers will be based in five hubs around the county, covering larger beats from fewer locations. Hastings has been chosen to be one of these hubs, which has partly allayed some fears of how policing will suffer in the town.

Smaller stations, like Bexhill and Rye, must rely on emergency support from the nearest hub.

The Hastings Police Federation representative, PS Che Donald, last month said he did not anticipate everyday policing changing much because of the decision to make Hastings a hub. At the same time, Godfrey Daniel, councillor member of the Sussex Police Authority, said he was ‘reasonably relaxed’ about the impact on crime in Hastings.

Despite dismissing Mr Brown’s letter as irrelevant to Hastings, Ms Rudd did promise to meet with Chief Inspector Laurence Taylor, the acting Hastings district commander, to discuss any fears he had of cuts impacting on crime levels locally.

“I think we have a very good service here in Hastings, and I don’t think that will be affected,” she said.