MPs Huw Merriman and Amber Rudd have welcomed as ‘good news’ Sussex Police’s announcement to recruit 200 more police officers – a move described as an ‘enormous recruitment drive’ by the force’s chief constable.
Sussex Police’s recruitment drive, announced on Monday (April 16), will also see the force protect nearly 500 police officer and staff posts it had planned to lose as part of its saving plans.
On Tuesday (April 17), MP for Bexhill and Battle Huw Merriman asked Amber Rudd MP – who was taking topical questions at the despatch box in the House of Commons – if she welcomed the news.
Replying to Mr Merriman’s question, the MP for Hastings said: “Yes, this is good news. The police and crime commissioner for Sussex, the excellent Katy Bourne, has told us that she will be recruiting 200 officers this year and 200 the following year. Kent has said the same, and I understand there will be another 1,000 officers in London.”
Sussex Police said the recruitment of new officers will take place over the next four years, providing the county with 200 more police officers than today.
Speaking after the House of Commons debate, Mr Merriman said: “I am very pleased that our constituencies will see a substantial increase in police officers which I know will also be welcomed by local residents.
“The additional officers will help Sussex Police to achieve their priorities include strengthening local policing, working with local communities to keep residents safe and protecting vulnerable residents.”
Sussex Police’s move will see additional officers join local prevention teams in order to increase visibility and accessibility as well as increased resourced within the Community Investigations Teams.
Mrs Rudd added: “I was delighted to welcome, as Home Secretary, the increase in recruited police officers for us here in Sussex and elsewhere across the country. We are fortunate to have a very capable police and crime commissioner in Katy Bourne, and her announcement of 200 additional police officers for Sussex, using the precept flexibility we have provided, is an important step forwards for our local communities.
“It is important everyone feels safe within our towns and I am confident that our police and crime commissioner for Sussex is working hard to help ensure this.”
The chief constable of Sussex Police Giles York said he was ‘determined’ to make public feel the difference as he announced the changes following a rise in local precept.
He said: “Over the last few years, we have dealt with significant challenges created by the financial constraints in which the force has found itself. This has meant difficult decisions have had to be made resulting in fewer people than we had before. Some areas of policing are stretched due to increasing demand and a change in the complexity of what we deal with.
“This change in our financial position has created an exciting opportunity to strengthen areas where it is needed most.
“This is an exciting step change for the future and allows us to strengthen local policing in a way we couldn’t have planned before.
“I am absolutely committed that the public and police colleagues will feel a difference over the next four years, now that we will have more money than we had previously expected.
“This means we can increase our presence within communities, enhance our investigations teams and improve accessibility when people want to get in contact.
“Local policing is at the heart of everything we do and continues to be the foundation of the service we provide to keep people safe and feeling safe. We are undertaking an enormous recruitment drive over the next few years, on a scale we haven’t seen for a long time. Recruiting more police officers and putting them where they are most needed puts us in the best position to achieve our aim as well as further modernising our service.
“I am grateful for the commitment of all officers and staff in keeping people safe and making a real difference in the community.”