UNISON criticises police staffing cuts

UNISON is campaigning against staffing cuts proposed by Sussex Police
UNISON is campaigning against staffing cuts proposed by Sussex Police

TRADE union UNISON has hit out at Sussex Police’s decision to cut 1,000 jobs by 2020, as a result of Government spending cuts.

The figures, which were released last Tuesday, revealed that front-line posts are among those under threat. Sussex Police has indicated that there will be 700 fewer officers and support staff, with another 300 staff to go from elsewhere in the force.

Andy Stenning, UNISON branch secretary for Sussex Police, said: “Whilst we have sympathy with the situation Sussex Police find themselves in as a result of Government-imposed cut backs, UNISON is opposed to these plans and will continue to fight to protect jobs and services.

“The force has partnered with an outside contractor to draw up these proposals – at a cost of £500,000 so far, with further costs to come. These proposals are not driven by the desire to improve and enhance the service the force provides to the people of Sussex, and will mean a marked reduction in service.

“This will reduce the workforce beyond a safe margin and lead to a serious and fundamental loss of service. It will also have a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of our members as they struggle with excessive workloads and try hard to continue to serve the people of our communities.

“The majority of these cuts will focus on neighbourhood policing, with the loss of a number of PCSO posts. Frontline policing needs to be protected and we need to ensure it is rooted in our communities.

“Policing must be supported both financially and through proper and informed debate in our communities.”

He said UNISON supported replacing Police and Crime Commissioners with an elected Police Committee representative of the communities it serves and added that the union would continue to work closely with Sussex Police to ensure communities were safe and properly resourced.

Over the past five years, Sussex Police has had to make savings of £50million. This latest round of cuts will focus solely on jobs in an effort to save another £56million over the next five years, according to UNISON.

Sussex Police said the aim of the changes was to deliver policing more efficiently by embracing technology and multi-agency working, reducing costs and engaging with the public.

The decision to partner with Deloitte to draw up the proposals was taken because of the ‘size and scale of the task’.

A spokesman said: “Examining every aspect of our business and all within three months, meant that we simply had neither the inhouse skills nor the necessary methods to deliver this project on our own.

“Learning lessons from previous projects, we decided to invest in external experts to support our internal team, accelerate their work and to ensure a rigorous and high quality outcome.”

The force is also adamant it will retain a visible presence within the community.

“Our prevention, response and investigation teams will all be active within neighbourhoods across Sussex.

“Public safety is still our absolute priority. We have protected our response teams so that you can be assured that in times of need we will be there.”