Sussex Police has responded to questions put to it by this newspaper about staffing levels.
This comes after it was announced the force would be recruiting 200 new officers by 2022, amid concerns over frontline policing levels.
Question: Are the police officer posts being recruited additional new posts, or is the council tax precept increase being used to maintain the status quo?
Answer: We can now protect nearly 500 police and staff posts we had planned to lose as part of our savings plans. By 2022 there will be an additional 200 police officers in Sussex Police compared to the number we have now.
The investment will make a significant difference to where we thought we would be in four years time.
Q: Is Sussex Police ‘moving the deck chairs around’ in that there are no actual new officers but rather officers recruited to fill the gaps in funding?
A: We will be protecting 476, nearly 500 police and staff posts AND adding 200 police officer posts.
Q: Do you anticipate you will have more officers by 2021 than it has now? If so how many?
A: The increase in the precept means over the next four years we will be recruiting hundreds of new police officers.
We will have over 200 more police officers working across Sussex than previously planned for.
Q: How many police officers did you have in 2010 and how many does it have now?
A: March 31 2010 workforce: 3,213 officers, 377 PCSOs. End March 2018 workforce: 2,569 officers, 203 PCSOs.
Q: Of the ‘new recruits’ how many will be police officers and how many PSCOs?
A: We currently plan to recruit 36 new PCSOs in the coming year to maintain our current number of PCSOs. We constantly review whether we recruit more PCSOs in addition to police officers.
Q: A single officer reportedly covered the entire area of Lewes and Seahaven for a whole night shift. By the end, the officer said he was ‘broken’. Is this correct and what does Sussex Police aim to do to make sure this improves?
A: We will always see peaks in demand, as we saw then. We acknowledge the increase in demand, and of serious offences, that can be challenging and resource intensive on our officers and staff. We are constantly reviewing resource levels to match demand as much as possible.
Our Local Policing Model was built to be flexible so we could deploy officers to where they are most needed with response officers supporting each other to respond to emergencies across Sussex 24/7.
This comes after an Eastbourne officer sparked debate over the number of police on the beat when he spoke out about a particularly difficult Saturday night shift.