SUSSEX Police has been named as the force with the highest percentage of staff redundancies in the UK by the public service trade union UNISON.
A Freedom of Information survey revealed a 12 per cent loss of staff through redundancies over the last three years.
The union reported that in April 2008 Sussex Police employed 2,599 staff - excluding officers.
Since then, a total of 312 staff are said to have been lost through redundancies, along with nine more due to voluntary early retirement.
The union claim this will force police officers ‘off the beat and back into the office’.
Heather Wakefield, UNISON’s Head of Local Government, said: “Our figures show the devastation being wreaked across the country, but these cuts are just the thin end of the wedge.
“Forensics officers, PCSOs and 999 call takers are among the police staff carrying out vital roles for community safety.
“The public are not fooled by the Government’s false claims about protecting frontline policing. If police staff and PCSOs are cut, then police officers will be forced off the beat and back into the office.
“In the rush to clear the deficit, caused by the bankers, the Government has lost sight of protecting communities, it is not thinking about the real cost of the cuts.
“There is real fear and uncertainty among police staff about job cuts.”
However, Sussex Police refute this, explaining ‘staff have not been made compulsory redundant’ and ‘significant changes’ are being made ‘in order to protect the service to the public’.
A spokesperson said: “The Force is making significant changes to the way we work in order to protect the service to the public whilst making £50m savings.
“As a result of changes that have been made, opportunities have been given to existing staff and new roles have been created.
“The majority of these new roles are for basic administration jobs.
“We have been carefully managing recruitment and, where posts have not been filled internally, we are now looking to externally recruit, advertising on our Force website.”
Marion Fanthorpe, Director of Human Resources, added: “Sussex Police has made every effort to avoid making staff redundant.
“A number of people have left of their own accord under the voluntary severance scheme, suggested by Unison.
“This scheme, welcomed by staff, was introduced to avoid compulsory redundancies. Some 308 people were accepted on the scheme, with staff costs savings expected to be in excess of £8 million each year.
“The scheme has played some part in allowing Sussex Police to address short term changes and more fundamental changes to our policing model.”