Police dogs on Sussex streets will become a rarer sight as the number of dog handler posts is reduced by 30 per cent over the coming year.
Criticising the move, a police staff association have said it will ‘undoubtedly’ impact the ability of police dog teams to respond quickly to incidents.
Sussex Police has confirmed a reduction from 51 to 36 dog handler posts across Sussex and Surrey during the financial year as part of their ‘overall change programme’.
A spokesperson said: “We are confident that effective management will ensure that the dog team continues to provide a good service to their operational colleagues and to the public across both forces.”
But Matt Webb, from the Sussex Police Federation, said that fewer dogs meant that, in the future, there would be incidents where dogs and their handlers would not attend – whereas in the past, they would have been deployed.
“The belief that you can get more for less is a fallacy, you only get less with less,” he said. “As we have said before, cuts have consequences, and this is a direct consequence of the cuts we are facing from central government.”
Andy Stenning, from Sussex Police Unison, said: “Any reduction in front line resources needs to be looked at very closely and challenged if necessary.”
Simon Ellery, a spokesperson for the office of the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, said the reduction was part of the four-year Local Policing Plan supported by Katy Bourne.
He added that the plan is constantly scrutinised by Mrs Bourne through measures including the monthly performance and accountability meeting.