Severe cuts to public safety organisations in Adur and Worthing will have a profound effect on the fight against crime in the district and borough.
That is the tough message sent to Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne after she proposed slashing the funding to the body promoting vital crime prevention work by more than half.
Now the Adur Safer Communities Partnership and its Worthing sister organisation (CSPs) have sent a stinging response to the Commissioner telling her she has left the organisations demoralised and damning the reasoning behind the report which recommended the cuts as “invalid, inaccurate and misleading.”
Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing at Adur District Council, Cllr Dave Simmons, who Chairs the joint body of both partnerships said he was “flabbergasted” by the shock cut.
“Frankly having now had a chance to look in detail at the proposals all I can say is that they are a huge disappointment for the teams in Adur and Worthing who are leading the way and producing some really innovative work in crime prevention and making our communities safer,” he said.
“The cuts are based on so much flawed thinking and a lack of rigour in analysis that they must be reviewed.”
His counterpart on Worthing Borough Council, Cllr Val Turner, who also sits on the partnership joint body added, “It really looks like we are being punished for our success. We reached out across Sussex to spread our good work, brought in extra funds for pioneering projects and it seems as if that has counted against us.
“I fear these cuts will have a profound effect on our ability to take an early intervention approach to crime and disorder.”
In addition to the huge initial cut in funding, the pair pointed out that the Commissioner was “top slicing” the remaining funding by keeping a fifth of all monies, previously handed to all county CSPs, in her office coffers for county-wide schemes thus depriving funding for local solutions for differing crime priorities in different communities.
CSPs such as the Adur and Worthing Safer Communities Partnerships are local organisations made up of council, police, fire, NHS and probation officials designed to tackle specific crime and disorder issues in areas. A small team of workers are employed to enact and commission work to improve public safety.
Now the Commissioner is proposing Adur and Worthing’s combined funding from her office is cut from £95,000 to below £43,000, a 55 per cent drop. Jobs and crime fighting projects could be in jeopardy including three Community Safety roles.
The Commissioner’s office has calculated the new funding based on population and historic crime figures without in-depth analysis of the types of crime, scale of the impact of crime nor the specific needs of different communities.
In an official response to the proposal the Adur and Worthing CSPs say the funding review has made no attempt to include “any type of impact analysis of this change nor demonstrate any overt understanding of the factors that affect local crime.”
It says the decisions on funding were based on “flawed” analysis of the facts because inadequate explanation from the Commissioner in advance of the review led to information returned to her from CSPs that was “extremely inconsistent.”
Part of the new funding formula is based on lower historical crime figures in the district and borough compared to elsewhere but the letter to the Commissioner points out, “using total crime figures is a poor way of identifying those crime types that pose the most significant threat and will impact on communities the greatest.”
It points out that in Adur and Worthing “cuckooing”, in which drugs dealers make crime bases in the homes of vulnerable people, is a major problem with almost 43 per cent of the county’s total incidents recorded there.
It adds that the area has a high incidence of crime associated with deprivation and vulnerability which has led to successful projects to protect such people, especially the street community.
Remarkably the funding review has missed the point that successful pioneering work in Adur and Worthing, especially tackling domestic abuse, which has been used across Sussex by other partnerships, has not been taken into account in the review nor in the Commissioner’s decision to “top slice” cash for her own office to work on county-wide projects..
In conclusion the letter tells the Commissioner that much of the report is “fundamentally flawed” with a new funding formula that is “simplistic and out-of-date”.
Commissioners replaced the now-abolished police authorities. The first incumbents were elected in 2012 and subsequent Commissioners elected for four-year terms.
In the financial year 2016/17 the total cost of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner’s office was £1.52 million. It has 22 members of staff.