WHILE phone-hacking has been a phrase on the nation’s lips, phone-charging has become an issue for Sussex Police, which has banned civilian workers and officers from charging up their mobiles and MP3 players at work in a bid to cut costs.
The force has decided that the move is necessary to cut energy bills as part of widespread savings it is making to meet Government spending targets.
The ban has received national attention with the Daily Mail reporting that if the 5,000 people who work for Sussex Police all simultaneously put their phones on charge it would cost the force £1.17 an hour.
The new restriction was also reported by the Daily Telegraph which quoted one ‘disgruntled’ officer as saying: “We are talking a few pennies here. It has not been well accepted.
“It must be better to have a happy workforce than one irritated by their bosses for the sake of saving a few quid.”
A Sussex Police spokesman told the County Times: “Our work to deliver savings amounting to £50 million by 2015 is continuing.
“All areas are being reviewed to see where savings can be made with a particular focus on those areas where our customers will not be affected.
“As part of this work it was identified that there are a significant number of electrical items being used in Force which are not essential to the working environment.
“The removal of non-essential items will bring about savings on PAT testing and energy usage, which we have already reduced by around ten per cent.
“Any money saved in this area will be put back into frontline services.
“This request was made to staff in November and the response has been very supportive.”
In a separate statement the force has announced that new 3D-laser scanning technology funded by the Government and police will benefit drivers, by shortening motorway closures after collisions.
Sussex will receive £155,890 from the Department of Transport as part of the government-led ‘CLEAR’ initiative, which is aimed at reducing delays on increasingly congested roads.
The scanners save valuable time by taking a 3D image of a whole crash site, which will allow officers to remotely investigate the scene, rather than by surveying multiple sections of the site.
The digital image can be used to take measurements of where vehicles are in relation to each other, and allows other important evidence to be examined remotely.
Sgt Richard Hornsey, principal forensic collision investigator for Sussex Police, said: “It is vital that the scene of a serious road traffic collision is recorded in detail to ensure a thorough investigation and justice for victims.
“The 3D scanners are an innovative tool for collision investigators to use, allowing them to record crucial evidence in more detail and far more quickly than ever before.
“Officers are always mindful of the need to get traffic moving as soon as possible following a collision, due to the traffic and economic disruption road closures can cause.
“In trials across the country, the 3D scanners reduced the scene investigation work at incidents by an average of 39 minutes, which will be welcome news to drivers and businesses across Sussex.
“We have also worked closely with our colleagues in the neighbouring force areas of Surrey, Hampshire and Thames Valley to ensure our officers will be familiar with using the same equipment, meaning the opportunity to work together in the future should the need arise.”
The 27 forces awarded the funding will start to receive the grants in January 2012.