As most of us celebrate the new year this weekend, it will be business as usual for many police officers and staff. They will have to put their celebrations on hold until their shifts are over so, please do spare a thought and raise a glass of seasonal cheer to them all.
I also want to thank our Chief Constable and her senior team for their leadership and sterling efforts to keep Sussex safe and for making policing in our county as effective and efficient as possible so that every penny counts.
Last week, during my monthly webcast Performance and Accountability meeting, I asked Chief Constable Shiner for her assessment of the budget position for the force after two years of high inflation and rising pay, pension and energy costs.
She was very clear that, despite the increase in central government funding announced in the provisional Policing Grant Settlement figures for the next financial year, Sussex Police – like most other police forces – faces a funding shortfall.
My office has been working very closely with the finance team in Sussex Police to scope a range of scenarios depending upon the levels of grant funding from government and levels of contribution from local council tax.
Now that we have the detailed Policing Grant Settlement, Sussex Police and my Chief Finance Officer can provide me with clear budget proposals for the coming year.
These will be shared and discussed with a working group of the Sussex Police and Crime Panel and, alongside feedback from residents over the past eight months, they will inform my proposals for the level of precept in your Council Tax for 2024/2025 which will be put to the full Police and Crime Panel in January.
It is very clear from all my consultations, surveys and public meetings that people want to preserve the welcome increase in visible and accessible neighbourhood policing. The increase in additional police officers is because of the funding from the Government’s Uplift programme and the increases in local council tax contributions per household since 2018.
The latest figures from Sussex Police show that, at the end of November this year, there were 3,112 full-time equivalent (FTE) police officers (with a headcount of 3,206) and that number will rise to 3,163 FTEs by the end of March next year (and headcount of 3,265).
Sussex Police’s recruitment team deserve enormous credit for exceeding their targets to attract and secure applicants from an increasingly diverse range of backgrounds, bringing different skills and perspectives to policing.
I wanted to close my last newsletter of this year by thanking everyone in Sussex Police for their 24/7 service to us all and their determination to catch criminals and keep us as safe as possible.
Whilst we do face some challenging times ahead, I will do everything I can to provide the resources they need to succeed.