LETTER: Appalling cuts in police budget

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Your letters

The Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner is asking for a rise in our local taxes to increase our police numbers. We must support this; indeed, we need a far greater increase in police than Ms Bourne is asking for.

If you proposition people to decide between democracy or law and order, most would choose order simply because you cannot have an effective democracy without this.

Once a law is made, we need police to ensure its enforcement. Not too long ago, we had a real police force; a force that was the envy of the world and we were proud of it. They were regarded as one of the pillars of our society. So what has gone wrong?

It certainly is not the men on the front line; rather we have to look further up to their superiors who have failed to speak out over the appalling reductions in the policing budget that has done so much harm.

We now have three real police officers for the whole of the Horsham district and a police station that is closed at night. Over 40 years ago with a far smaller town and less crime we had a police station open 24 hours a day with five police. The town of Horsham in the USA has a population of 15,000 with a per capita crime rate one third of ours. It has 40 police and seven back-up staff.

The drastic reduction of police, especially in rural communities, has produced a situation where we have an excellent crime policy statement that the police cannot possibly conform to. The police have to decide what crimes have priority of attendance and investigation instead of dealing with all crimes.

This is not helped by the increasing practice of hiring out of our police to private commercial events and late night drinking hours that has proved to be a social disaster in our cities and towns, both taking up police resources.

That is not the position the police or we, the public, should be in. Our perception of the police is not on the large acts of detection or investigation, rather it is in the small everyday matters that unfortunately are now taking low priority.

When the police fail to deal with these, we criticise. That criticism then becomes dissatisfaction with the police as a whole, which in turn affects the morale of the police and we become estranged from each other. We want to have pride and respect for our police but how can we have this if they cannot fulfill our expectations?

If there is no guarantee of, at least, an attempt of crime detection and punishment, then crime will grow. As crimes grow, the prisons become full and the courts are required to be lenient in their sentencing and, because of a similar cut on prison officers, more prisoners are allowed early release.

How demoralising it must be for police who put effort into catching and arresting criminals to see them on the streets just months later or worse engaging in the fallacy of community service.

Worse, when believing they have good and firm cases, to see them turned down by a Crown Prosecution Service more concerned with their successful statistics than in justice. The result of these failures is the victims who, too often, are left frustrated and angry.

The job of being a policeman in this country becomes more difficult as time goes by and until their superiors and those in local political positions where they have policing responsibilities speak out and make a stand, the government will continue the fictitious assertion that all is well and our policing capabilities will continue to decline.

A crime number over the phone is simply that and is fast becoming an object of derision. It cannot replace proper investigation.

It is essential to us all that our police are supported, we accept the need of an increase in resources, and our police are restored back to the position of dignity and respect that they deserve. We must urge our politicians, both national and local to accept their responsibilities and also support our police, not with words but actions.

Finally they accept the reality of victims’ rights before all else. That right is the proper investigation of a crime and an appropriate punishment commensurate to the crime and the effect on the victims.

Michael Rawlings-Lloyd

Brighton Road, Lower Beeding

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