The Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner has thrown her support behind plans to cut 1,000 jobs and slash £56million from the force’s budget by 2020.
Katy Bourne, who was elected to the post in 2012, said Chief Constable Giles York had her “complete support” in designing the Sussex in 2020 policing model.
Describing the model as “fit for the 21st century”, she added: “I have been very impressed by the business-like approach Sussex Police has taken to this design process, which has involved several hundred officers and thousands of hours’ work.
“I have provided constructive challenge throughout this process, representing the public’s interests and their likely concerns.
“There will be changes that I know some residents may not feel comfortable with straight away.
“That is why I will be watching closely - and continuing to engage directly with members of the public - to ensure these changes are clearly communicated and understood.”
The cuts were announced on Tuesday (March 10).
As well as announcing plans to axe 500 police officers, 200 staff and 300 posts from elsewhere within the force, Sussex in 2020 listed 14 “key changes for the future”:
- Public safety is a priority. Response teams will have the same strength and they won’t be constrained by the organisational boundaries of East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton & Hove - the most appropriate officer will respond to those most in need.
- A resolution centre, staffed by officers, will provide professional advice online or by phone to resolve issues at the initial point of contact. Where a problem would be more effectively dealt with by a partner, people will be directed to them.
I have provided constructive challenge throughout this process, representing the public’s interests and their likely concernsKaty Bourne
- More online services will be available to meet people’s changing needs - to report crime and find out information.
- Officers will be equipped with mobile devices to easily access information and complete administrative tasks whilst out in the community, reducing the need for them to spend time at police stations.
- Officers will carry out intelligence-led work, focusing on crime hotspots and the most vulnerable.
- PCSO roles will change. They will be equipped with a wider range of skills and become more flexible so that they can focus on those most in need, actively contributing to reducing crime, alongside partners.
- Officers will be trained to deal with a range of problem-solving issues, reducing the need for specialist officers.
- With a flexible model, officers and staff will be available where they are needed at a given time and not be constrained by organisational boundaries.
- There will be a named person for each ward in the county who can be contacted if needed.
- Victims and witnesses will have an officer dedicated to them throughout their case, reducing the need for handovers.
- Officers will provide joint services with partners, including Surrey Police.
- Officers and staff will work closely with partners, including co-locating whenever there are benefits to the community, thereby reducing costs.
- Policing districts will be combined for effective command, consistency and partnership working.
- Officers and staff will be trusted to use their discretion to do the right thing for the public we serve without multiple layers of supervision in place.
Mrs Bourne said: “This is a long-term, five-year plan. The new Sussex Local Policing Model - and the changes within it - will not be rolled out overnight.
“I will be asking partners and the public to feedback their comments and concerns to me at every stage.
“My ongoing challenge to the chief constable will be that the new model must maintain public confidence and reassurance whilst delivering an effective and efficient police service.
“Everyone has a part to play in reducing and preventing crime. I will continue to work closely with the police, partners and the public to ensure we all take responsibility for keeping Sussex safe.”
Mr York said: “These are significant ways in which we are transforming local policing over the coming years.
“We will always focus on the needs of those who are the most vulnerable and we will always be there when you need us in an emergency.”
He added: “”Although we will be smaller, I am confident that we will provide an effective service by adopting new ways of working, reducing wasted effort and improving productivity that will help us meet competing demands while continuing to protect our community.”