During the past week, much has been made of the recruitment of additional police officers across the country as a result of the funding provided by central government. In terms of numbers, this first cohort will consist of 6000 officers allocated to forces based on the existing, flawed in my opinion, funding formula.
Much of the data underpinning the formula is out of date. The outcome of this is that Sussex will receive an additional 129 officers. Now any increase in numbers is good, however, it does need to be put into context.
The police service nationally has lost a fifth of its police officers since 2010. Therefore, if after three years, the 20,000 additional officers are achieved, we will still be a little short of the numbers that existed at that time.
My other major concern is a logistical one. All of these officers have to be fully trained before they are let loose on the public. This takes time. I also fear for the future. This is because every time there is a major recruitment drive, there is a significant downside when those officers reach their retirement ages.
Last year, Sussex Police, as a result of the increased funding provided through a council tax increase, recruited 267 officers. On the face of it, very good news. However, during that year, 133 officers left as a result of retirement while a further 83 resigned. That therefore left an overall net gain of just 51.
Based on these figures, and assuming that all things remain equal for the foreseeable future, it would take Sussex Police 14 years just to get back to the numbers of 2010.
Therefore, when our illustrious Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne says as she did this past week, that Sussex now have an additional 379 officers, ie 250 already recruited plus the 129 gifted by the Government, that does not tell the whole story.
Much has been made of the recruitment of an additional 100 PCSOs in Sussex by the PCC.
These individuals do NOT have the full powers of a police constable including the fact that they cannot make arrests. Additionally, their shift patterns mean that they do not work past midnight. On the face of it, it seems a good idea for Katy Bourne to recruit an additional and reassuring uniformed presence on the streets of Sussex.
However, this will not deal with the major shortfall of fully warranted police officers being available to respond to calls from the public for assistance. That is the reality!
There is, I believe, a more significant reason for this focus on PCSO recruitment. At the time that she was first elected in 2012, her mantra was to have a Special Constable aligned to every ward in Sussex.
This failed as she could not achieve a high enough recruitment rate.
Therefore, I believe, she is substituting PCSOs instead.
Party Political? I think so, don’t you?
I urge you all to bear these facts in mind when you listen to or read Mrs Bourne’s propaganda and form your own opinions.
Retired Detective Chief Superintendent, Sussex Police