‘Substantial’ recruitment of Police Community Support Officers and Police Officers is on the cards for Sussex in the wake of a government pledge to give police forces across the UK almost £1billion of additional finding.
But a spokesman for the Labour party in Hastings told Hastings In Focus it’s was all ‘too little too late.’
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne says: “Substantial recruitment of PCSOs and Police Officers for Sussex is now under consideration after today’s announcement by Government.”
While Chief Constable Giles York says: “This is very welcome news and will allow Sussex Police to deliver more policing to keep the public safe.
“This would allow me to increase the number of police officers and PCSOs; invest in technology to modernise our policing and improve public contact making it easier for the public to contact us.
“I am committed to ensuring money raised locally will be spent locally so this funding would significantly increase the numbers of PCSOs, in addition to the planned uplift in police officers, ensuring that we are more visible and accessible within all of our communities.
“We are already undertaking a major recruitment of 800 Police Officers over the next four years, increasing our total number of officers by 200.
“There are clear operational imperatives that we need to address by recruiting more officers and we are currently preparing detailed plans of how additional funding would be used in each of these key areas, to help inform and support the decision by the PCC in February 2019.”
In addition to its announcement of a £970m police funding settlement, the Home Office also announced that Police and Crime Commissioners will be able to raise the police element of council tax – the precept – above the current £12 limit.
Ms Bourne said: “Both the increase in the core grant and this funding flexibility for PCCs is a result of the intense lobbying I have undertaken with other PCCs and Chief Constables to secure the biggest annual increase for police forces since 2010.
“I want people in our county to feel safe and have confidence in their police force and we know that officer visibility plays an important role in achieving this. Today’s unprecedented funding news will help us recruit substantial numbers of PCSOs and police officers as well as improving the public contact service, especially the 101 non-emergency number.”
Ms Bourne says she has ben told by local people that they miss the contact and interaction with familiar PCSOs that help build community confidence.
“Public feedback shows a clear appetite for more visible policing and a willingness to pay more if people can see where their money is going. This is why the Chief Constable and I are committed to ensuring that residents will see and feel the benefit of any extra funding raised locally,” she says.
The announcement of the additional funding comes after a period of sustained criticism of Sussex Police which has seen officer numbers drop by 20 per cent since 2010 from a high of 3,200 to just 2,500 today. A BBC documentary, Inside Out, looked at the formation of a pressure group called Retired Officers Who Care headed by Kevin Moore was says of his organisation “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.”
At the time the programme was broadcast Godfrey Daniel, a Hastings County Councillor and one-time candidate for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner told Hastings In Focus he was sad to see the county’s police service struggling to keep people safe.
Amber Rudd has welcomed the recent announcement that funding for the police system will increase by up to £970 million next year, the biggest increase since 2010.
Police funding in Sussex could increase by up to £22.3 million in 2019-20 as a result of these changes. The Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, has welcomed these funding increases and will begin the biggest recruitment drive for Sussex Police officers in 10 years.
Hastings MP Amber Rudd welcomed the Home Office’s commitment to fighting serious and organised crime, including economic crime and drug trafficking, with a £90 million investment in national, regional and local capabilities.
She points out that the settlement will see £175 million going into the Police Transformation Fund, which includes investment for innovative new crime prevention techniques and a new national welfare service for front line officers, and £495 million for national police technology capabilities.
Ms Rudd said: “I am delighted that police funding in Sussex could increase by up to £22.3 million next year.
“This is part of our balanced approach to the economy – spending on key public services while keeping taxes down and getting debt falling.
“The Conservative Party will always ensure that the police have the powers and resources needed to keep our citizens and communities safe.”
But a spokesman for the local Labour party said the government’s record on policing was one of failure and broken promises.
“The promise of extra money now is welcome, but too little too late and comes after years of neglect,” he said.
He went on to point out that over 21,000 police officers and 6,700 community support officers have been axed across the country since 2010, despite a promise from government to protect the frontline.
“While officer numbers have been slashed, the police have also recorded the highest number of offences in a decade and violent crime is at record levels,” he added
Labour says it will continue to oppose cuts to the police, the local party spokesman said his party, if in government, would recruit 10,000 extra officers and prioritise neighbourhood policing.
“Labour believes justice should be available for all. We will strengthen the rights of victims, and ensure the justice system works for them and keeps people safe. Labour will put victims at the heart of the justice system by enshrining their rights in primary legislation,” he said.
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