Savage cuts which have seen more than 300 staff at Sussex Police made redundant in the last 12 months alone could have a devastating affect on local crime prevention.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that since 2008, Sussex Police has made a higher per centage of its staff redundant than any other UK force.
Of the 2,599 employees registered in 2008, 312 have lost their job – a cut or around 12 per cent. The next highest rates were South Yorkshire (nine per cent) and West Midlands (also nine per cent). And each of those 312 jobs were shed in 2010/11.
Leading trade union UNISON is now warning that widespread Government cuts will begin a domino effect that could mean criminals find it easier to ply their trade in coming years.
Heath Wakefield, UNISON’s spokesman, said the cuts were just the start with thousands more expected to be sacrificed between now and 2015 – including in Sussex.
The union is currently also unhappy at the pension plans mooted by Westminster and is balloting members, including those in Eastbourne, over possible strike action.
Ms Wakefield, told the Herald, said, “These figures show the devastation being wrecked across the country, but these cuts are just the thin end of the wedge.
“Forensics officers, PCSOs and 999 call-takers are among staff carrying out vital roles for community safety. The public are not fooled by Government claims about protecting frontline policing.
“If police staff and PCSOs are cut, then officers will be forced off the beat and back into the office.
“In the rush to clear the deficit, caused by the bankers, the Government has lost sight of protecting communities, it is not thinking about the real cost of the cuts. There is real fear and uncertainty among police staff about job cuts.”
Sussex Police said 309 members of staff had volunteered for redundancy under the severance scheme launched last year. It argues those who chose to leave under this voluntary scheme did not count as having been made redundant.
Marion Fanthorpe, director of human resources locally, said: “Sussex Police has made every effort to avoid making staff redundant. A number have left of their own accord under the voluntary severance scheme introduced to avoid compulsory redundancies.
“Some 308 were accepted on the scheme, with staff costs savings expected to be in excess of £8million each year.
“The scheme has played some part in allowing Sussex Police to address short term changes and more fundamental changes to our policing model.”
They were also quick to point out there was just one compulsory redundancy in 2010/11.