The Police and Crime Commissioner will need to focus on Policing as well as on the wider issues of Crime Prevention. They will set the strategic direction for Sussex Police in conjunction with the Chief Constable who retains full control of the operational aspects of Policing. My my manifesto will include some broad policing priorities as well as specific proposals to link Crime Prevention and Policing in Sussex. In the meantime, I am happy to outline my own reflections on the good work being carried out by Sussex Police. I present these as a reflection of what I have seen first hand and so this list is far from exhaustive. A more complete list is available on the Sussex Police website.
I believe passionately that preventing crime is better for all of us than trying to solve it later, although of course all of our communities experience the pain of criminal activity from time to time. This is at the heart of the priorities of Robert Peel in establishing policing in 1829. I will therefore place a strong emphasis on Crime Prevention in my manifesto, representing as it often does the most cost effective solution. Inevitably this approach does not lead to such powerful headlines as proving that a crime would otherwise have taken place is far from easy.
I have a strong commitment to the style of neighbourhood policing being carried out in Sussex and wish to see this work promoted and carried out in collaboration with all local communities across Sussex. This partnership approach is exemplified by the work of organised groups such as Neighbourhood Watch and similar schemes (farmwatch, boatwatch, hotelwatch etc) or Street Pastors, Streetwatch etc. However the same principles apply where residents or businesses are working in a more informal manner with their neighbourhood policing teams. Each of us can play an active part in reducing and where relevant detecting crime in our quest for a crime free Sussex.
If together we can prevent and reduce crime by working with neighbourhood and response police officers, then the remaining resources will be available to fund teams of officers to deal with matters that sadly do escalate. These teams can punch far above the weight of those involved individually through a mix of human resilience and technology. We may not see the officers concerned on our streets on a regular basis. However their ability to operate in Sussex and more broadly (many of these teams operate regionally from a Sussex base) ensures that we all benefit from their training and equipment.
The use of the Sussex Police helicopter has been debated by the Police Authority at great length. I have discussed its use with many serving police officers who do value its capacity, even though this comes at great cost. I also know that some residents find its use a mixed benefit. I am delighted that a strategic (national) approach to air cover has been developed and look forward to future discussions with senior officers in Sussex to ensure the current proposals continue to deliver good value for money over the next four years and beyond.
Traffic and Roads Policing
With the recent move for the West Sussex Road Policing Unit to Arundel, I am assured that the force has the resources it needs where it needs them able to respond to all parts of Sussex. This is a vital part of our policing capacity. All drivers find the sight of a flashing blue light in their driving mirror slightly unnerving until they are the ones stuck at the side of the road (or worse – having left the road itself). Unders these circumstances the speed with which one of the response cars is able to arrive is critical. I am very impressed by the attitude and enthusiasm of the officers involved, despite the very difficult work they are obliged to carry out from time to time. These teams are also used for educating drivers in various settings.
Tactical Firearms Unit
I have had the privilege of attending an indepth presentation on firearms and observing some of the training processes involved. I have also participated in a review following the tragic shooting of a Sussex resident by one of the firearms officers. I am confident that the willingness of Sussex Police to be scrutinised and to apply internal scrutiny is very robust. I have full confidence in the dedicated work of these highly skilled police officers but like all residents do not wish to see firearms in use in anything other than the most extreme situation. I fully support the joint working with Surrey Police.
Domestic Violence & Child Protection Teams
The hard work of these dedicated officers shows through, if you have the privilege of speaking to any of them for even a few minutes. Dealing with such issues is vital if the families and children in Sussex are to be able to live securely. However these officers see some of the worst aspects of humanity and deserve our full support. Thankfully they are able to work in partnership with professionals working with other statutory agencies.