Sussex police say plans to grow officer numbers are ‘on track’

Sussex Police has hit back today at claims by its former head of CID that it will fail to meet its targets for recruitment of additional officers in the next two years

Earlier this week former Chief Superintendent Kevin Moore poured cold water over claims by the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne that Sussex Police will have 200 extra officers by 2022. He said he was not convinced that the plans to increase officer numbers was achievable. However today Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner says the force is growing for the first time in a decade and she promises that in the coming years people will see a ‘visible and tangible increase in visible policing (sic)’.

Mr Moore had also expressed concern about the number of officers resigning from their jobs on the local force and questions whether low salaries and poor general conditions of service are to blame? Ms Shiner says the force has a detailed plan to monitor staff turnover which is monitored regularly to ensure the force’s targets are being achieved.

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Kevin Moore on the BBC programme Inside Out last autumn.

Mr Moore has been a vocal critic of Sussex Police for some time now. Last year he was instrumental in setting up a group known as Retired Officers Who Care which shone a spotlight on a number of areas where former senior officers from the force felt Sussex Police was failing. Mr Moore pointed to what he claimed was the force’s lowest detection rate in it’s history as one area for concern, saying at the time: “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.”

Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner says plans are monitored to ensure they remain ‘on track’.

Speaking this week Mr Moore said: “Great emphasis has been place by the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner on her drive to achieve greater numbers of police officers within the force and this has led to inflation busting council tax rises for the past two years.

“She has been quick to point out, at every opportunity, and to publicise the numbers that have been recruited over the past year.

“While I am of course keen to see the numbers of police officers swell considerably within the county of Sussex as well as elsewhere, I think that an injection of reality is very important.”

Figures revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request that Mr Moore made to Sussex Police show that although 267 new officers were recruited in the last year more than 200 either retired or resigned.

  • Number of officers recruited: 267
  • Numbers leaving through retirement: 133
  • Numbers leaving as a result of resigning: 83
  • That is an overall balance of 51.

“At this rate the PCC is highly unlikely to achieve her target of an EXTRA 200 police officers by 2022,” says Mr Moore.

“I would suggest that while the 133 retirees is explainable, the 83 resignations are not. My question therefore is simply this: What is Sussex Police doing in order to reduce the numbers of officers leaving other than through retirement?” he asks.

He concedes there are many potential reasons for the resignations which are outside of the control of the local force and says that low salaries and poor general conditions of service both of which he claims were the result of cuts imposed by Prime Minister Theresa May in her days as Home Secretary in the government of David Cameron.

“I’d just like to remind people that Sussex officer numbers have reduced from 3,200 to 2,500 since 2010 prior to the latest recruitment drive. Dare I say it then that the council tax payers of Sussex are likely to be very disappointed with the results of their major investment in local policing!” he concludes.

The Deputy Chief Constable, however, is confident the force is on track to achieve its goals in terms of increased officer numbers she said: “With additional funding, Sussex Police is in a period of growth for the first time in more than ten years which will, over the course of the next four years, see a visible and tangible increase in visible policing for our local communities.

“We have a very clear and detailed plan, which takes into account both planned and unplanned staff turnover during this period, to achieve the target number of police officers and staff by 2023, a plan that is continuously monitored and reviewed to ensure we remain on track.”

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