Friday, 16 October 2009

Greens oppose self-imposed cuts in Susssex Police budget

Regular readers of this blog will know that Sussex Police faces massive cuts in the coming years.

Chief Constable Martin Richards has warned that staff may go as the police faces cuts of £35m over the next five years, thanks largely to poor Government funding.

Of course we can oppose the cuts - and try to ensure the axe doesn't fall on Brighton and Hove's increased focus on neighbourhood policing: putting more uniformed PCs and PCSOs on our streets to attend community meetings, getting to know our local communities, and so on.

But at a meeting of Sussex Police Authority yesterday members from across Sussex voted to impose even deeper, voluntary, cuts - by increasing savings at the same time.

Effectively, the police will be taking more council tax payers' money than ever whilst reducing expenditure and transferring more to its 'reserve accounts'.

Sussex Police has got about £50m stashed away in reserves, of which about £7m is in its 'General Reserve' - its 'money for a rainy day' account.

Well when I look at the increasing economic hardship being felt across Brighton and Hove, the stubborn crime figures and the prospect of police redundancies in the face of Labour and Tory proposals for cuts, I think it's raining.

But rather than spending some of this money to ensure there are no cuts in local police services, yesterday's decision will see about £3m transferred from operation budgets to the General Reserve.

Only two members opposed the decision, myself and East Sussex Labour councillor Godfrey Daniel.

I hope other members will be able to look the public in the eye when their are fewer bobbies on the beat, knowing that they could have done something to prevent it.

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