Sussex PCC's response to the HMICFRS Effectiveness Inspection
Independent scrutiny of policing is an essential part of maintaining public confidence. Today’s HMICFRS Effectiveness Inspection report comes at a critical time for Sussex Police - straight after the major modernisation of the force’s approach to local policing.
The public have seen changes to the deployment of officers and PCSOs at the frontline of policing and their confidence in Sussex Police is naturally more influenced by what they see rather than by the huge amount of policing that goes on unseen, tackling serious crime.
It is reassuring that, despite the redesign of local policing over the past three years, Sussex is assessed as being Good overall, and Good at keeping people safe and reducing crime. Inspectors praised the focus on problem solving and the training for officers joining prevention teams.
It is also welcome news that Sussex is judged to be Good at investigating crime, protecting vulnerable people and tackling organised crime. I really welcome the Inspector’s recognition of the force’s efforts to improve crime prevention and how it tackles anti-social behaviour.
I am pleased that HMICFRS have clearly acknowledged that their assessment took place before the new prevention teams were fully bedded in and their expectation that the crime prevention strand will steadily improve.
The report does, however, highlight public engagement as an area where the forces falls short. Part of the problem is that the force is spending less time engaging with local communities which means that, whilst it understands risks to most communities, it doesn’t understand people’s specific concerns; and more puzzling, it doesn’t understand why anti-social behaviour has fallen in some areas.
At a local and county level, the force has clearly not communicated some of the benefits and successes of the new Prevention Teams. This is doubly frustrating when we have seen excellent work by the Community Investigation Teams supporting local police commanders, and when Inspectors assess the force Good at tackling serious and organised crime gangs whose activities often drive the lower level crime at a local level.
I want to thank all the officers and staff in Sussex Police for their professionalism and patience through the changes of the past three years. I know how dedicated they are to public service. Although their efforts are keeping Sussex a safe place to live and work, there is still a public confidence gap that the force needs to close through, visible and proportionate local policing.
I have asked the Chief Constable and his Command team to show how they will ensure that Sussex residents can feel safe at home, in public spaces, at night time and on the roads.
Sussex police are revising a plan for the next four years detailing where the investment from this year’s precept will go, how that affects officer numbers and where they are deployed.
I am confident that, if the force makes this investment into local, neighbourhood policing, it will be reflected in improved public confidence and an improved HIMCFRS rating at the next inspection.