How safe will you feel without community policing?

What does your community mean to you? Is it a place where your children can be educated in a safe and secure environment? Where your streets are free from crime? Where you can rely on your local bobby to investigate all allegations of criminality?

Your community as you know is at risk thanks to multi million pound cuts to your policing budget.

Whether you live in urban areas like Brighton or one of Sussex's many small villages or hamlets, you can expect one thing - for the level of service to deteriorate as your police service shrinks.

Demand continues to grow but Sussex is to lose 500 officers over the next four years. Already you have lost every single designated schools officer in your county. This means your children no longer have officers going into their schools offering the protection they need from things like drugs, cyber bullying or worse.

And your officers are being told to deal with more queries over the phone or online. Unless your call is considered an emergency, it may not receive the attention you would like and we want to provide. From next year the number of jobs that will be dealt with via the phone or online rather than allocated to a police officer in Sussex will have to reduce by 41,000 due to reduced resources. What if one of these were your call about anti-social behaviour on your street?

Patrols have reduced and will continue to reduce. Your streets are not being policed in the way they once were. As neighbourhood policing posts are cut, community links will suffer and intelligence gathering will deteriorate. How are we to prevent crime if we are under-resourced and overwhelmed?

Neighbourhood policing will pay the price. Communities will be left without officers and try as we might, we just won't be able to do the same things we have always been able to do. Proactive policing will not take place. We won't be able to prevent crime, we won't be able to build on intelligence and we won't be able to exercise certain warrants - as we won't have gathered the intelligence to obtain them in the first place. Taking people off the streets? If something isn't important enough to a warrant a 999 response it may have no response at all.

Low level crime - low level drugs, handling stolen good and so on, will go undetected. Criminals will get away with it and will be emboldened to carry out greater crimes.

We are not alone in our fears. Police chiefs have issued a dire warning about how the UK nationally will be able to respond to threats to its security. To deal with rioters and terrorists.

In September, the National Police Chiefs Council painted a picture of a depleted emergency service, with forces unable to cope with riots, crime rates surging and local patrols becoming a thing of the past. The service will become response-based and officers will be left unable to attend accidents, look for missing people and prevent suicides.

It is a sad day for policing. Politicians must take note. It is up to them to prevent a once-great police service from being dismantled for good.

In May 2015 at our national conference The Police Federation of England and Wales was accused by the Home Secretary of scaremongering, of "crying wolf". Since then chief officers across the country have begun to agree with us. Make your voice heard contact your MPs and local councillors today.


Less means less

What does policing in Sussex look like today? Officers are telling me that they are stretched. We are all being repeatedly told by politicians that the front line is unaffected - this is simply not true.

We see it on our roads and in our communities.

Are Roads Policing Officers - policing the arterial road network and dealing with the most serious crashes - not front line? Their numbers have reduced and will reduce further. The number of their bases has reduced and is likely to reduce to just two covering the whole of Sussex. I see areas that rarely have a Roads Policing officer on their roads which leads to poor and dangerous driving, anti-social behaviour and breaches of the Road Traffic Act.

When there is little or no fear of being caught, offending behaviour increases, endangering other road users and pedestrians.

Are Neighbourhood Officers - working in your communities, identifying offenders or vulnerable victims, building relationships while gathering intelligence - not front line? Their numbers are being significantly reduced.

PCSOs will become the identified face of 'beat areas'. We do not wish to denigrate PCSO's - but they are not police officers and should not be asked to do the job of police officers. My concerns are that we will become more remote from the communities we serve. Potential victims will become harder to identify and protect as we find it harder to recognise the suspects causing harm.

Both these departments are key in supporting the 24/7 Response Teams at times of greatest demand of priority calls. They 'pick up the slack' when demand outstrips available resources. Who will do this when they are gone?

I have mentioned before that Sussex Police has shrunk by 11% while the population of our county has grown by 10% resulting in a reduced number of officers dealing with a demand that continues to rise.

The service my members will be able to provide you, the public of Sussex, will decline. We will not be as readily available for face-to-face contact as we are now or have been in the past. My 25 years of experience tell me that you deserve more. You pay for better - but due to the £56 million of budget cuts there will be some aspects of our work that we will simply no longer be able to do.

Less money means fewer officers and there is only one thing you get with less - that is LESS. Less of everything that you have come to expect. Be in no doubt #CutsHaveConsequences.

Follow us on twitter @SusPolFed and Facebook 'Sussex Police Federation' to see more. Tell your councillors, your MP's, high profile members of your communities, politicians. Let them know that you want a properly funded and resourced police service to protect you and your families. Write to them, tweet them and send them emails. Tell your friends. You have a voice and if you want to preserve your local police force, I am asking you to make it heard.

How #CutsHaveConsequences to policing in Sussex

Enough is enough. Your police force is being reduced and we at Sussex Police Federation want you, the public, to be armed with the facts.

You have lost 419 officers from your front line.

Another 500 officers will be lost over the next four years.

Your whole police force has shrunk by 11 per cent over the same period that the population of Sussex has grown by 10 per cent.

We want to provide you with the world class policing that you deserve, but thanks to £50 million cuts since 2010 and a further £56 million cuts to be delivered between 2015 and 2020 we will simply be unable to do so.

As a federation, we have a responsibility to act in the public's interest.

We want you to be informed. That your neighbourhood policing units are being reduced. That it is taking us longer to respond to your calls. That we are not able to deal with every crime face to face. That violent crime and sexual offences are on the up. That total crime has increased by 3 per cent.

The Specialist Search Unit is being disbanded. From the beginning of June, the officers that searched underwater, in lakes, potholes, confined spaces have been redeployed. All that specialist knowledge and experience has gone. For an area like Sussex, with so much coastline, this is a big concern.

Those are the consequences of unprecedented cuts to your policing budget from Central Government.

We would much rather prevent crime than investigate it, but we can't even do that. All the vital work we do collecting intelligence, building links, carrying out proactive patrols, all that is being affected.

These cuts will hurt, they will be noticeable and your safety is at risk.

And all the while, you - the tax payer - are paying the same as you always have. You are paying the same rate and getting fewer police officers in return. You are being short changed. All you get for less is less.

So what can you do about this? Over the next few weeks will be telling you more about unprecedented cuts to your policing budget.

Follow us on Twitter @SusPolFed to find out more. Tell your councillors, your MPs, high profile people, politicians. Let them know that you want a properly resourced police force to protect you and your families. Write to them, tweet them, send them emails. Tell your friends. You have a voice and if you want to preserve your local police force, make it heard.

Matt Webb, Chairman, Sussex Police Federation

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