Over the last two weeks there has been a more visible police presence in Crawley than I can remember in a long time. While it is good that after all the recent media attention we finally seem to be getting the resources we need to try and tackle the rise in violence and drugs in the town, these extra officers aren’t new, they have had to come from somewhere and that means that the current level of policing cannot be maintained indefinitely. The question then is: once those resources have had to be moved back, what next for Crawley? After all, a temporary increase provides only a temporary solution.
We have been told that Sussex Police are going to be recruiting 800 new police officers, although in reality when you look into the detail most of them are to replace officers leaving the service, meaning the actual increase is only 200. Still, that sounds good, right? Well, not when you bear in mind it’s less than a third of the number of officers, not to mention PCSOs, we’ve lost in Sussex alone since the 2010 General Election. It will take a massive change in Government policy to turn things around and Labour has committed to increasing police officer numbers by thousands.
Residents deserve to know they will be kept safe. As one woman told me on the doorstep two weeks ago, she thought when she moved from south London ten years ago she was moving away from this sort of crime, she was horrified to see it starting in Crawley. To fail to tackle this problem now is to welcome disorder onto our streets. We simply need more police officers.
I think the final words on the subject are best left to the Chief of the Police Federation: “we are failing the public but that’s not the fault of police officers on the ground, and in some cases it’s not the chief constable’s fault. You can only slice the financial cake so many ways and you have to prioritise … the public are already suffering and they are going to suffer more and more.”