Is Sussex Police really serving Sussex?

Godfrey Daniel was unsuccessful when he stood for election as Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Sussex, today he says he’s sad to see the county’s police service struggling to keep people safe.

Mr Daniel was speaking to Hastings In Focus in the wake of the revealing BBC1 documentary Inside Out broadcast last night that highlighted a number of shortcomings that exist within Sussex Police, shortcomings deemed so serious that a group of retired senior officers have come together as a campaign group to fight for improvements.

Inside Out focussed on the formation of ‘Retired Officers Who Care’ who plan to highlight issues they believe put the public at risk, these include slow response times, non-attendance by officers at crime scenes and what Kevin Moore, one-time head of Sussex CID describes as the force’s lowest detection rate on record.

“The current detection rate is woeful, it’s less than one in ten crimes that are detected, that’s the lowest it has ever been,” he says.

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Reporter Glenn Campbell waited 49 minutes to speak to an operator using the 101 service.

In the course of the programme reporter Glen Campbell tried to report an incident using the 101 non-emergency line and it took him 49 minutes, when he did eventually reach an operator he was told the police would not attend despite several cars parked near a railway station having been vandalised, broken in to and having the owner’s possessions stolen.

Assistant Chief Constable Nick May says: “The most important service we provide is the 999 emergency service and currently we are still performing well on that with an average wait time of eight seconds for a 999 emergency call that is our priority but we must improve 101 as well.”

PCC Katy Bourne says: “I remain disappointed and dissatisfied with the performance of the 101 service and I expect improvements arising out of the increased investment I have made available.”

Officer numbers in Sussex have fallen from around 3,200 in 2010 to around 2,500 today, a reduction of just over 20 per cent. It is also understood there are now just 70 traffic officers to cover the whole of the road network in Sussex.

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Heading up Retired Officers Who Care is Kevin Moore who once headed up the county’s CID.

Mr Moore says that he and the other 180 members of Retired Officers Who Care remain ‘passionate’ about policing in Sussex and are deeply concerned that local people, “…no longer have the confidence to call the police to report crime.”

Mr Moore says: “The group is not in any way politically motivated but was created this summer as a result of what its members fear to be an ambivalence by senior members of Sussex Police regarding the current situation.”

Our main focus is to challenge PCC for Sussex Police, and Giles York the Chief Constable, regarding the issues relating to a lack of police officers within the force. The drop in numbers of officers has led to a fall off in acceptable levels of service to the public in terms of response to calls for assistance and the investigating of criminal offences. We believe more should be done by the hierarchy of the force to lobby central government for additional funding as well as providing the public of Sussex with an honest assessment of the problems facing the organisation.”

  • The group’s key objectives are:
  • To raise matters of policing concern with the Chief Constable and the PCC of Sussex Police as appropriate.
  • Where deemed to be appropriate to demonstrate public support for serving police officers of Sussex Police.
  • To utilise the media and other relevant outlets in order to draw to the attention of the public, policing issues affecting them in order to gain their support.
  • To challenge as appropriate the Chief Constable and PCC of Sussex Police on matters involving policing.
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Just how many EXTRA officers will the new recruitment drive bring to Sussex by 2022?

Ms Bourne regularly talks about her plans to recruit 800 new officers in the next four years, she says 600 of those are to replace officers due to leave the service and she says by 2022 there will be an additional 200 officers compared to numbers of serving officers today. Retired officers continue to be skeptical of Ms Bourne’s assertions and point out that even if there were to be an additional 200 officers by 2022 that still leaves a significant deficit when compared to 2010.

Mr Daniel is saddened by the whole affair: “I’m just very sad to see our once proud police service now struggling to keep us safe and respond to the needs of residents. But the people of Sussex voted for a Conservative PCC and are now living with the consequences: reduced policing of our communities.”

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Speaking after the programme went out ACC May said: “The last few years have indeed been challenging for policing not just in Sussex but across the UK.

“It is true that public finance has been tough on local policing in the last ten years but since 2010 we have transformed and modernised Sussex Police significantly – while needing to save nearly £90m. This has been no mean feat and has resulted in difficult decisions being made resulting in fewer people than we had before.

“However, we are heartened that Sussex Police has been rated as ‘good’ by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and the county remains one of the safest in the country.

“Each day, I see examples of great public service from our officers and staff and I absolutely recognise how hard they are working and the strains on them.

“We do provide a good service. It is worth noting that the average waiting time for an emergency 999 call is eight seconds. The waiting time is just over nine minutes for non-emergency calls and can be longer at peak times. We are undertaking an enormous recruitment drive to help address this.

“We have 70 new officers in training and further significant intakes planned over the next six months; we are also in the process of recruiting and training PCSOs as well as investigators and call handers.

“We are planning to have 200 more police officers by 2020. We will be strengthening local policing in a way we couldn’t have planned to before.”

  • If you haven’t watched the full Inside Out programme follow the link below to BBC iPlayer
  • To sign a petition calling for a Royal Commission on the future of the police in the UK, a petition that has already collected more than 265,000 signatures follow this link

5 thoughts on “Is Sussex Police really serving Sussex?

  1. Good Afternoon,
    I have no idea if this website is still active as I can see it dates back to 2018 but if it is I have a few things to say which might contribute to your research and get me some advice as to the best route to achieve a better environment.

    In Hastings and St Leonards area where I live, there now appears to be little or no control whatsoever over use of the Drug, I believe is called Skunk, which has escalated enormously over the Lockdown and become intolerable.

    So bad it’s almost impossible to walk along the seafront or anywhere in the lower Hastings area without the overwhelmingly vile stench of it filling the air.

    The area going towards Hastings Town on foot along the A259 opposite the beach, starting at Greeba Court then into The Colonnade, especially bad here most afternoons, the stench is quite overwhelming and has a detrimental effect on my health resulting in raised heart rate and very bad headaches which last for hours. Then From Greeba Court to the end of Marine Court, (excluding the area around The Victoria Hotel), is at times also really bad.

    Then on the beach side of the road just past The Azur, again the air is full of it, it used to be a pleasure to walk along the beachfront but no more, its no longer something I can do, it affects my health so badly, one of the main reasons I moved to the area 7/8 years ago was to be able to enjoy walks along the beach in the “fresh” !! sea air. This only exists in small pockets now but what you have to walk through the bad bits in order to get to those pockets, which makes it unviable for anyone with serious health issues.

    I’ve personally seen several highly visible Drug dealing transactions on the seafront area from Warrior Square particularly and up to Kings Road.

    Neighbours in my immediate home area actually sit on their balconies and on my front door steps (despite not living in this building), openly smoking the stuff. A few days ago I saw one of them walking along the road openly smoking it.

    To the best of my knowledge its still illegal in this country so I cannot understand why nothing is being done about it.

    I feel completely helpless. My home is regularly filled with the appalling stench of it and as an elderly person with a serious heart condition this is severely detrimental to my health and results in increased heart rate, Blood pressure, nausea, shaking and unbearable headaches/migraines which last for hours afterward, leaving me very distressed and stressed all of which affects my ability to sleep.

    Several times I’ve been obliged to ask these people to move away from my front door steps because the drugs they’re using are affecting me so badly, they’re response is verbal abuse.

    I have contacted the Police a couple of times about it but basically real help is very limited, sympathy in spades but no real practical or legal help with the actual problem. Not even a full Police Officer, PCSOs arrive instead.

    Fine people, but pretty ineffective, since it seems they only have the power to rap somebody across the knuckles, as if it’s a little misdemeanour. One officer even said to me you can smell it all over Hastings…… with a shrug of the shoulders, as in what can we do?
    I get the distinct impression they seem to feel there is little if anything they CAN do about it. How is that OK. I simply cannot understand why the Police seem to be turning a blind eye to it all.

    The stench of it often, (almost on a daily basis), fills the communal areas of my building from the building next door, fills my own flat and yet nothing is done, despite several people having reported it.

    Being in lockdown has been bad enough but at times my home has been a no go area because of the stench, combined with the effect it has on me physically. I have a balcony with a sea view which, I can’t really use much because of it, so basically I can’t stay indoors and I can’t go out because of this pest. I’m at my wits end.

    All over the Internet I see Police Web Pages suggesting that you should contact your local police when you see any drug activity. I did exactly that they simply said they would you like me to write a Report. When I asked what will that achieve, I received a very non-committal response (so basically nothing at all) and was advised by one person that it might be better to contact the Environment Officer… ?

    What is the point of that, The Environment Officer works for the Council and one of the perpetrators causing a lot of the problems in my immediate home area, is living in a flat rented from the Council via a private Landlord and living on Benefits.

    So in effect decent hard working, law abiding tax payers are not only funding their complete lifestyle, from food to their home but since there appears to be no other visible means of support, indirectly paying for the drug habit too.

    I was informed that the Council Housing Officer who assigned the flat to this person is fully aware of the fact that they use drugs. Apparently, or so they say, the Council Housing Officer cleared it with the Landlord prior to agreeing to rent the place to them. If that is true how is that in anyway OK.

    I personally doubt the truth of that as the Council officer would be encouraging the tenant to break both the law and the terms of their lease, the Police officer, PCSO however seemed convinced that it was true.

    How is it alright for these people to ruin the lives of people like myself living around them, while they thumb their noses at the Law and take full advantage of the Benefits system at the same time.

    This whole thing is making my life a complete misery, causing me all kinds of stress, anxiety, distress, and unhappiness, yet I have no real recourse or help to or from the Law to get it stopped.

    If I was a Tenant and not the Home Owner, I would be able to move away fairly easily but why should I have to. Before all of this began I loved it here, at my age living by the sea was supposed to be my last move, it just isn’t right that my life is being destroyed in this way.

    Why isn’t the ‘LAW’ dealing with the problem at source – cutting off the supply and jailing the dealers, the situation seems to be completely out of control here.

    Up until 5 or so years ago, when I first moved to this flat things had improved considerably from previous years and the Druggie Heaven label of the area had faded considerably, things were being tackled head on, which is why I decided it would be safe for me to move here.

    Recently however, particularly since the start of the Lockdown, things have gradually developed into complete chaos and a Druggie free for all, which decent law-abiding Citizens are supposed to put up with.

    I cannot conceive of how much money the criminals who manufacture this stuff must be making in this area alone. The type of poisonous Chemicals they use to mix in with a tiny amount of cannabis is deadly – HOW IS THIS OK?

    The whole thing is completely unacceptable.

    I have no idea if there is anything you can do about this, or even if the subject of drug use in East Sussex is even on your Research Agenda but I’m hoping you might at least be able to point me in the right direction in order to get something serious done about it.

    Kind regards

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