Sussex Police ‘good’ at keeping people safe and reducing crime, according to independent report

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Sussex Police is ‘good’ at keeping people safe and reducing crime, according to the latest assessment by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Service (HMICFRS).

The force welcomes their independent scrutiny and values being graded consistently ‘good’ in the service it provides.

Deputy Chief Constable Bernie O’Reilly said: “We welcome HMICFRS’s views that our plans for the future are ‘realistic and practical’, with the reassurance that these have been subject to external scrutiny and challenge.

“They have judged us as ‘good’ in understanding demand and planning for the future.

“At the time of the inspection of we were part-way through a transformational change programme which has changed how we provide local policing in the community.

“Our local policing model has now been fully implemented just this week. It sees teams working together to identify the best ways of solving problems to keep people safe and feeling safe. These changes address many of the concerns cited by HMICFRS and ensures that we have the right people in the right places to protect those most at risk of harm.

“However, as is being increasingly recognised nationally, these are challenging times for policing with both increasing and new demands being placed on our service at a time when we have fewer people to respond. That is why our new model is flexible so we can best use the resources we have at our disposal now and we will look to invest where needed in the future.

“We have had to make difficult decisions but we’re pleased with our new model which sees teams taking a smarter approach to the way they prevent, detect and tackle crime. To sustain this model in to the future we will work with Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne to ensure there are sufficient funds to help offset the 26.5m further savings that need to be found over the next three years.

“It is by investing in our staff, targeting their efforts in to where they can make a difference, and collaborating with partners that we can prevent crime and resolve local issues right up to combating serious organised crime and threats of terrorism through regional and national support.”

Newly-created Prevention Teams introduced just this week, aim to reduce demand by preventing crime from happening in the first place, providing an effective presence based on where crime occurs, and work closely with partners to provide better solutions for local people. Effective partnership working is central to reducing and preventing crime. These teams are dedicated to preventing crime from occurring and their focus on proactive problem solving activity means they will bring lasting solutions to local issues.

They will build on recent successes that include:

In Brighton significant work by police and partners, which led to an aggressive and violent beggar receiving a criminal behaviour order banning him from Brighton and Hove for two years and preventing him from begging anywhere nationwide.

In Burgess Hill, the council and some sporting clubs getting together to tackle anti-social behaviour in the town and after hosting a social event for local teenagers in a park and inviting them to attend council meetings to have their say anti-social behaviour has reduced.

In Crawley police and the council joining forces to address anti-social behaviour, holding street briefing sessions to discuss issues and targeting patrols.

A new Investigation and Resolution Centre also helps us meet our demands, dealing with the incidents that do not require a face-to-face response, over the phone. The centre enables emergency response officers to attend where there is the greatest need.

Sussex Police is already actively working on the areas of improvement identified by the Inspectorate.

Mr O’Reilly said: “As a consequence of the HMICFRS’s inspection, improvements are already being made in our Contact Centre, which has also seen a steady increase in demand. Switchboard operators are integral to the correct routing of calls, determining those which are priority crime calls and those which are non-priority. At times of high call volumes waiting times for non-crime calls can lengthen, resulting in some callers abandoning. We realise waiting can be frustrating and that is why the force has recently launched a contact card with all the different ways the public can get in touch. This was developed to ensure the public get the right help they need from us and also know when contacting the police is not the right service to call.

“The force’s financial plan is to achieve its savings targets while investing for the future. The report highlights our commitment to be innovative and research new ideas, investing in technology and seeking ideas from the workforce, who have helped design the local policing model.

“Working together with partners we are striving to efficiently deliver an effective service in keeping the communities we serve safe, and feeling safe; identifying and protecting vulnerable people; and preventing and responding to harm.”

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne says: “As PCC, I use these independent reports as part of my scrutiny of the force so it is reassuring that this report recognises that Sussex Police works efficiently to keep people safe and reduce crime and overall has been given a ‘good’ rating.

“However part of the report has found that Sussex Police requires improvement in its use of resources to manage demand. Whilst I recognise that Sussex Police has seen an increase in demand and I know that officers are carrying high workloads across all departments, it is worth noting that this inspection took place six months ago – before the final changes to the force’s local policing model were completed.

“We need to give Sussex Police time to embed these changes following the introduction this month of the new Prevention Teams who will be working with partners and the public to identify the best ways to solve problems.

“It is my job to help Sussex Police explore and identify all opportunities for investment in order to manage future demand. That is why I have carried out a review of the amount of money Sussex Police holds in its reserves and released £15m to reduce the impact of reductions in police officer numbers.

“On Monday I will be launching a county-wide consultation asking members of the public if they would be prepared to pay more for policing in Sussex to sustain our service.”

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