A retired senior officer has waded in to support a PC who called staffing levels ‘not safe’.
Former Detective Inspector at Eastbourne CID Kevin Moore says senior officers at Sussex Police need to speak up about the ‘dangerously low’ numbers of frontline officers.
This comes after serving PC Dave Elliott publicly said something needs to be done about staffing levels, after the Eastbourne and Wealden officer made it through an extremely busy night of assaults, weapons, and domestic incidents.
PC Elliott said on his Twitter account that the minimum staffing levels are ‘not safe or practical’.
Responding, Chief Superintendant Nick May said Sussex Police sets minimum staffing levels which are ‘safe’ and ‘sufficient’, but PC Elliot’s tweet has sparked a debate about the state of policing in East Sussex.
Mr Moore, who also served as DCSI (Detective Chief Superintendent) at Sussex Police, said senior police officers need to support their officers rather than ‘remaining silent’ and ‘patronising the public with platitudes’.
The former officer, who served for almost 40 years, said, “What PC Elliott has detailed does not surprise me in the least.
“What does surprise me however is that we still have senior police officers including chief constables trying to convince the public that all is well. This is most definitely not the case in my experience.
“The public are not stupid, but they may not appreciate the current desperate situation facing the modern police service. The numbers of police officers have fallen nationally by almost a sixth in just a few years since 2010.
“How can this not have negatively impacted on the delivery of policing services? It is nonsense to suggest otherwise.”
Moore said morale in the police service is at an ‘all time low’, something he says he has seen and heard first hand. He told the Herald, “I have yet to hear a senior police officer actually stand up and say ‘we haven’t got enough people’.
“In 2009, when I retired as a senior officer, we had 3,200 officers. It’s currently 2,600 – that’s more than 600 police officers gone.
“When they say ‘we are doing this’ and ‘we are managing that’ how can they cope with that sort of cut? There’s no way you can cope with that sort of reduction in the numbers.”
He said he and other retired officers were ‘incensed’ when they read the original story about PC Elliott. He said, “That bobby has done what that senior officer should have done, he’s told the truth.
“They are afraid to admit the truth. They are more concerned with not rocking the boat than with telling it as it is.
“I want him to know he’s got support of retired colleagues. Before he wouldn’t have had to have done what he’s done. I’d have done it.”
Mr Moore explained why he believes the police service is suffering, “Central government has thrown in the towel, they have cut and cut and are expecting the PCC to hike council tax to fill those gaps. Kent Police has got 200 more police officers, why aren’t we doing the same?
“It’s sad because I love policing. Until the government starts to listen like with the NHS otherwise we are going to do end up with a disaster.
“I am hugely disappointed that, while large numbers of NHS bosses are now coming forward to express their concerns regarding the scarcity of resources in their organisation, the leaders of the police service appear to be reticent to do likewise.
“Why is this? They need to be bold and be prepared to stand up and say and do the right things rather than try to kid everyone that the police are coping.”
Further retired officers have come forward to back PC Elliott’s comments. Robin Hodgkinson, who worked Eastbourne police for 32 years and a further 10 years with Sussex Police, said there are currently ‘insufficient constables to cope’.
He said to the Herald, “PC Elliott is right that something needs to be done and it’s not an influx of PCSOs that are required but an influx of constables to provide a safer working environment and to return an efficient service to the public.”
Responding to Mr Moore’s comments, Nick May said, “I absolutely recognise that teams are tirelessly working to meet the challenges they face every day. Our new Local Policing Model was designed to meet our current demands with the resources we have available.
“Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has secured more investment for Sussex through an increase in the precept which means that we will be able to put more officers where they are most needed and recruitment has begun.
“This is welcome news and the public can expect to feel a difference in their local service as a result of this investment. I look forward to welcoming more officers on our streets and I will always be grateful for all our teams’ commitment to keeping people safe.
Read the full story about PC Elliott here.