Police to merge major crime team

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DETECTIVES working on top-priority cases will be shared across two forces under new costcutting plans.

Sussex Police Authority (SPA) recently discussed proposals to share its major crime division - which deals with murder, kidnap and rape - with Surrey Police in a move that would save more than £7 million over the next four years.

It forms part of Chief Constable Martin Richards’s plans to save £52 million by 2015 and he vowed that: “Retaining strong local connections will help ensure that local impacts and priorities are well understood and addressed.”

Cllr Godfrey Daniel, a local member of the SPA, said he was not overly concerned by the plans. “I do not think there is a tension between focusing on neighbourhood policing and pooling the major crime service with Surrey. Major crime crosses borders, major criminals operate throughout the south and we need major resources to deal with it. Given the Government cuts this is one way to stop the service deteriorating. I don’t think local people will lose out.”

Next year there are plans to merge more departments including public order and road policing.

Also the chief constable told the SPA that the crime rate across the county had fallen last year, but it will probably go up again next year because of changes in the way low-level offences are recorded.

He also revealed that the force seized more than £3 million from convicted criminals - all of which is ploughed back into policing or into community projects including many here in 1066 Country.

And while sickness rates in the force have fallen, each Sussex Police employee still takes an average of 8.23 days off every year. Cllr Daniel said a “carrot and stick” approach was needed and said sickness rates were particularly high among police staff and police community support officers (PCSOs).