Sussex Police announced 1,000 jobs will be axed in the next five years, as part of its new policing model.
Chief constable Giles York announced the news today (March 10), and said the force had to save £57 million by 2020.
A total of 500 officer jobs will be lost, and a further 200 local policing posts will also be axed.
On top of that, 300 non-policing posts will be lost in the next five years.
Despite the job losses, which will see the staff numbers go down from 4,865 posts, the chief constable said the quality of policing in Sussex would not change.
“I am starkly aware that there will be a lot of public interest in how this will affect them and I am also aware that some will experience a reduction in some parts of policing that are very dear to them,” said Mr York.
“We will continue to prioritise crimes that cause the greatest harm to victims and the community such as harmful anti-social behaviour incidents. “Although we will be smaller, I am confident that we will provide an effective service by adopting new ways of working, reducing wasted effort and improving productivity that will help us meet competing demands while continuing to protect our community.”
He said the force would make sure there is a higher police presence in ‘high crime’ areas, but moved to reassure the public that police will always respond quickly in an emergency.
“Sussex Police is an emergency service. We will be there when the public needs us 24/7 and we will build our capability to prevent crime by working even closer with the community and partners.
“However, we have to recognise what the public needs and ask them to help us by accepting that we can’t respond to every small thing that comes to our door. Key to the success of our model is reducing the demand on officers on a day-to- day basis so that we can continue to deliver core policing. It is also essential that we build understanding with everyone from the public to our partners and stakeholders so that they know what they can expect from us and the part they need to play in ensuring its success.”
I am starkly aware that there will be a lot of public interest in how this will affect them and I am also aware that some will experience a reduction in some parts of policing that are very dear to them.
There will structural changes in the force, which will see officers cover all of Sussex, rather than just one patch, but there will be a named point of contact for the public in every ward in Sussex.
A range of changes were announced at a press briefing at Sussex Police HQ, including a new ‘resolution centre’ which will see problems solved over the phone or online by officers, rather than callers having to wait several days for an officer to visit them.
Officers will also be equipped with mobile phones which will allow them to do admin tasks on the move, rather than dealing with paper work at the station.
The chief constable said there will be more collaboration with Surrey Police, but ruled out a merger with the neighbouring force in the near future.
“It is not on the cards at the moment in any way,” he said.
The safety of the public, he said, was paramount to the force, but to make the £57m savings, Sussex Police must change the way it works.
This includes passing on cases which should not be dealt with by police, like dog fouling, and parking.
“Our vision for policing Sussex in 2020 is that it will be a service that protects the community, is relentless in the pursuit of criminals and has an empowered workforce with integrity at its core,” he said.
“My aim is to deliver policing more efficiently by embracing technology and multi agency working, reducing costs and engaging with the public in a way that suits them and us better.
“It is only by changing the way we deliver our service that we will be able to maintain the level of public safety we have achieved in Sussex. It’s absolutely paramount that we respond when people face significant risk and harm.”
There was also a focus on tackling cyber-crime and child sex exploitation, and the force said it has invested in these areas and would continue to have specialist teams dealing with these issues.
Mr York said, “The world we live in is changing and will continue to do so, including the crimes people commit. Our new model, which will be implemented in stages over the next four years, shapes our service so we are best equipped to meet emerging threats, within our financial constraints.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said she will ‘monitor the plan closely’.
“The chief constable has had my complete support in designing a new local policing model for Sussex that’s fit for the 21st century,” she said.
“I have been very impressed by the business-like approach Sussex Police has taken to this design process, which has involved several hundred officers and thousands of hours’ work. I have provided constructive challenge throughout this process, representing the public’s interests and their likely concerns.
“There will be changes that I know some residents may not feel comfortable with straight away. That is why I will be watching closely - and continuing to engage directly with members of the public - to ensure these changes are clearly communicated and understood.
The new Sussex Local Policing Model - and the changes within it - will not be rolled out overnight. I will be asking partners and the public to feedback their comments and concerns to me at every stage. My ongoing challenge to the chief constable will be that the new model must maintain public confidence and reassurance whilst delivering an effective and efficient police service.
“Everyone has a part to play in reducing and preventing crime. I will continue to work closely with the police, partners and the public to ensure we all take responsibility for keeping Sussex safe.”
Key changes for the future:
· Public safety is a priority. Response teams will have the same strength and they won’t be constrained by the organisational boundaries of East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton & Hove - the most appropriate officer will respond to those most in need.
· A resolution centre, staffed by officers, will provide professional advice online or by phone to resolve issues at the initial point of contact. Where a problem would be more effectively dealt with by a partner, people will be directed to them.
· More online services will be available to meet people’s changing needs - to report crime and find out information.
· Officers will be equipped with mobile devices to easily access information and complete administrative tasks whilst out in the community, reducing the need for them to spend time at police stations.
· Officers will carry out intelligence-led work, focusing on crime hotspots and the most vulnerable.
· PCSO roles will change. They will be equipped with a wider range of skills and become more flexible so that they can focus on those most in need, actively contributing to reducing crime, alongside partners.
· Officers will be trained to deal with a range of problem-solving issues, reducing the need for specialist officers.
· With a flexible model, officers and staff will be available where they are needed at a given time and not be constrained by organisational boundaries.
· There will be a named person for each ward in the county who can be contacted if needed.
· Victims and witnesses will have an officer dedicated to them throughout their case, reducing the need for handovers.
· Officers will provide joint services with partners, including Surrey Police.
· Officers and staff will work closely with partners, including co-locating whenever there are benefits to the community, thereby reducing costs.
· Policing districts will be combined for effective command, consistency and partnership working.
· Officers and staff will be trusted to use their discretion to do the right thing for the public we serve without multiple layers of supervision in place.