Sussex Police Federation joins row over frontline officer numbers

Matt Webb, chairman of the Sussex Police Federation
Matt Webb, chairman of the Sussex Police Federation

The organisation which represents police officers has joined the debate over what the increase in council tax bills will pay for in terms of numbers of officers on the beat.

Sussex Police has yet to reveal exactly how extra cash raised through a rise in the council tax precept will be spent but says the force will have an extra 200 more officers.

However, the Sussex Police Federation says that figure is a ‘drop in the ocean’ and chairman Matt Webb said, “We have lost 663 officers since 2010. Although we are getting an extra 200, that’s still 463 fewer than before.

“Demand is increasing, the population is increasing, it’s just a drop in the ocean. We need more than that to provide what the public deserve.”

Mr Webb said figures show the solved crime in March 2014 was at 28 per cent and had fallen to 15 per cent by February 2018.

He said, “The fall in officer numbers has had an effect on crime. It’s having a detrimental effect on society.”

He said reports of a single officer covering an entire area is ‘becoming more and more commonplace’ as the force tries to cope with reduced numbers. Mr Webb said, “I’d like to hear the government accept it has done something wrong, to reverse cuts to the central grant and allow all forces to start to rebuild their neighbourhood teams to adequately protect the public.”

Sussex Police was due to announce plans on how the council tax precept rise will affect police numbers this week but has delayed it until next week.

Chief Superintendent Nick May said, “Changes in our financial plans give us the opportunity to strengthen local policing where it is most needed.

“By 2022 we will have an extra 200 officers across Sussex. The changes in our financial plans in the next four years put us in a stronger position.”

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