A PANEL which acts as a critical friend to Sussex’s Police and Crime Commissioner has welcomed a plan to transform the area’s policing and increase the number of officers.
But at their meeting on Friday, April 27, members of the Sussex Police and Crime Panel called for regular updates on the progress of the 2018/22 Transformation Strategy to assure them that additional investment was being used effectively.
The average household in Sussex will pay an additional £12 this year for policing, and Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne talked to the Panel about how this, along with £17 million released from the force’s reserves, will be used.
Mrs Bourne said her medium term financial strategy has enabled the Chief Constable to plan four years ahead, and she commended him for the speed in which he was able to produce the 2018/22 Transformation Strategy.
She said the money will allow the force to make significant investments in a number of areas, including local policing, which the public has said is important to them.
“The most important part of the strategy is that, over the next four years, Sussex Police will see a real increase in recruitment on a scale they have not seen for a number of years,” Mrs Bourne added.
“By 2022, Sussex Police will have 200 more police officers than they currently have. The Chief Constable will also be able to protect 476 police officer posts that would have been lost.”
Panel members welcomed the strategy but were keen to hear how the Commissioner would ensure that the changes being made, such as the use of new technology, were a success.
The Commissioner assured Panel members that she has monthly webcast meetings with the Chief Constable, as well as weekly discussions, which she will use to challenge the progress. Mrs Bourne said the regular independent inspections by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services would also help to assess the success of the approach.
Speaking after Friday’s meeting, Panel chairman Cllr Bill Bentley said: “The introduction of 200 additional police officers and the significant investment included in the 2018/22 Transformation Strategy will go a long way to ensuring the issues members of the public say matter to them most, are addressed.
“I think the Panel is keen to see a fast pace of change and we will keep a close eye on progress. We look forward to receiving updates on the process to allow us to monitor progress against investment. We have asked the Commissioner to report back to the Panel in a year’s time.”
Members of the Panel also raised concerns about knife and gun crime in Sussex. While the Commissioner was keen to point out that the number of incidents of knife and gun crime had not increased, she said the Chief Constable was not being complacent.
Members of the public are invited to submit questions to the Commissioner via the Panel, and at Friday’s meeting a number of concerns were raised about cycling on pavements and the safety of cyclists using the roads across Sussex.
Cllr Bentley added: “Members of the public are invited to attend our annual meeting on Friday, June 29, 2018, and have the opportunity to ask the Commissioner questions.”