A retired senior officer has launched a petition calling for more police officers to be hired.
Former Detective Chief Superintendent Kevin Moore is concerned about ‘low numbers’ of frontline officers and believes Sussex Police hiring more PCSOs is not the answer.
Rather, Mr Moore – who has more than 40 years of experience working for the service including as DI for Eastbourne CID – is calling on police bosses to recruit more officers to deal with crime and better protect the public.
Speaking in a letter as part of a group of retired Sussex Police officers, he said, “We, probably along with large numbers of the public, have become increasingly concerned regarding the ability of Sussex Police to be able to respond to incidents reported by the public.
“They have a genuine concern that the low numbers of front line police officers available may lead to the safety of the public and the officers themselves being compromised.
“This concern is not exaggerated and is not scaremongering as some current senior officers would have us all believe but is a genuine fear based on their professional experiences.”
Mr Moore, who lives in Seaford, says police officers numbers in the county have fallen from 3,200 to around 2,500 between 2010 and today.
He explained that whilst the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Katy Bourne has secured a considerable increase in funding for 2018/19 through a rise in council tax, this money is going towards recruiting 140 additional PCSOs.
Mr Moore said, “Whilst this may assist in increasing a uniform visibility, PCSOs do not possess the powers of police officers and therefore cannot deal with the types of incidents that officers can respond to.
“This is not designed to undermine the work of PCSOs, but this issue should be about increasing the numbers of police officers.
“Our neighbours in Kent are looking to take on an additional 200 police officers. Other forces within the country are also looking to increase police officer numbers similarly through reducing numbers of PCSOs including Lincolnshire and Norfolk.
“We therefore pose the question as to why Sussex are choosing to recruit extra PCSOs when the Force is struggling to attend incidents reported by you, the public.
“The time taken for officers to attend incidents reported by the public has increased considerably in recent times. This is despite the fact officers no longer attend certain crime types that they used to such as household burglary or other incidents determined to no longer require the attendance of a police officer.
“We, as retired officers, believe that this is not right or appropriate and therefore the public are being let down.”
Mr Moore is calling on members of the public with similar concerns to contact the PCC (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Chief Constable of Sussex Police.
His petition has gathered more than 800 signatures and is available here.
Responding to these comments, DCC Bernie O’Reilly said, “The increase in the precept means that over the next four years we will be recruiting hundreds of new police officers. We will actually have over 200 more police officers working across Sussex than we had previously planned for.
“Our PCSOs do a fantastic job and we will constantly review whether we recruit more in addition to police officers.
“We are currently developing our detailed plans for how the increased funding from the police precept will be used to strengthen all areas of Sussex Police.”
And PCC Katy Bourne said on Twitter, “The £12 increase in police precept means that @sussex_police will be recruiting hundreds of new police officers over the next 4 yrs. We’ll actually have over 200 more officers across Sussex than previously planned for.”
To read more on the issue, click here.