Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 22nd August 2018

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.”

One comment

  1. Well said Peter. I myself am from London originally and agree the criminality has increased in Sussex and is becoming more noticeable. Various factors behind this as we know.

    Yes to more police officers showing visibility and reassurance patrols to the community and able to respond to emergency calls promptly and providing a deterrence and therefore able to increase detections and keeping Sussex safe

    Additional officers will certainly contribute to community visibility patrols and reassurance but we must be smart on how we spend the time and budget on resources and to ensure they meet effective and efficient outcomes. There are alternative methods which enable officers to spend more time outside police premises to tackle incidents which require the warrant card and enquiries can be supported by collaborative partners in the form of investigation support services. Put simply, obtaining statements from victims and witnesses, viewing CCTV, conducting door to door enquiries can be provided efficiently and effectively from a collaborated partner well with allocated budgets.

    It works with other authorities to support where these investigative support services focus on back office whilst warranted officers help protect the community in addition to court appearances, training and rest days/annual leave.

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