Police welcome ‘good’ rating on how they protect those most at risk

Sussex Police has been judged as ‘good’ at keeping people safe and reducing crime.

Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Laurence Taylor said: “We welcome this report which focuses on how we protect those people who face the greatest risk.”

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) said the force:

  • Is commended for its ground-breaking work tackling crime across county lines.
  • Is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending.
  • Has a proactive approach to disrupting and investigating serious and organised crime.
  • Has worked hard to improve its response to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour.
  • Effectively works with partners to keep victims safe and protect vulnerable people.

T/DCC Laurence Taylor said: “I am immensely proud of the hard work being undertaken every day by officers and staff to keep communities safe across Sussex.
“This includes improving how we initially assess and respond to all vulnerable people, such as those with mental health problems, taking proactive steps in the case of domestic abuse and working effectively with partners to keep people safe.”

Prevention teams, introduced since this inspection last summer, are working effectively with partners as they remain deployed in neighbourhoods to prevent issues escalating.

For example when the community in Uckfield reported a group of teenagers causing damage and being threatening, Prevention teams addressed the issue by targeting the trouble spots at key times, particularly at weekends, serving dispersal orders, acceptable behaviour contracts and injunctions, returning youngsters to their parents and working closely with partners to tackle the root causes of the problem.

T/DCC Taylor said: “We work hard every day to keep people safe and feeling safe but we will never be complacent and will take on board suggested areas of improvement.

“With the rise in the precept providing extra funding for Sussex Police we will strengthen key areas to meet increasing demand and new challenges.

“We’ll prioritise areas where communities face the greatest challenges and where we are most stretched. This will include an increased focus on preventative policing, encouraging the public to share their knowledge of their neighbourhoods, sharing best practice, investigating the most harmful crimes and continuing to be accessible when the community needs us.

“I am absolutely determined that the public will see and feel a difference locally.”

In recent months Local Policing Teams, including Prevention Teams, Response and Investigations Teams, have been:

  • Disrupting drug dealers and all the associated criminal activity that brings. Working with community and partners, they have tackled drug supply in schools in Eastbourne, Lewes, Wealden and Bexhill, identifying dealers and seizing drugs and cash, following it up with advice to students.
  • Successfully applying for closure orders of premises in towns across Sussex where there have been complaints of drug dealing and ASB, including in Horsham, St Leonards and Crawley which were highlighted as concerns by the local community.
  • Working with the community in Brighton to disrupt a group of young people stealing motorcycles and riding them dangerously; as well as taking part in Op Doorway, working with partners to address aggressive begging and associated crime, targeting individuals and engaging in multi-agency days of action each week to help address their issues.

T/DCC Taylor said: “The HMICFRS recognised that the overall quality of our investigations is good and where we are identifying serious and organised crime we are robustly tackling it. Our innovative approach to safeguarding vulnerable people against cuckooing, where drug dealers befriend a vulnerable person and take over their house to deal drugs, is being considered for sharing nationally as best practice.

“Just this month two leaders of a complex drugs ring were sentenced to life imprisonment. Officers dismantled the drugs ring distributing heroin and cocaine across East Sussex, South East London and Kent, which led to the convictions of 16 people. Following another trial, a man is awaiting sentence and will join two others jailed for conspiracy to import lethal automatic firearms, clearly intended for criminal use.”

“We have prioritised investments and resources to allow us to better protect both children and adults who are vulnerable through domestic abuse or have been victims of rape or serious sexual abuse; and we have reshaped how we manage some of the most dangerous offenders in Sussex, continuing to develop even more robust partnerships , crucial to providing the best possible service to victims of crime.”

“We are committed to improving our service in every way to keep communities safe and will be publishing our recruitment plans alongside more detail on how we will be enhancing our local policing model shortly.”

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “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, and acknowledged that their assessment took place before the new prevention teams were fully bedded in.

“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.”