His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has today published its inspection into the effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy of Sussex Police.
While the inspection report highlights some areas of good performance it also finds areas requiring improvement including how the force records, responds to, and investigates crime.
The force is working with HMICFRS to accelerate its improvement plans to deliver the best possible service for the people of Sussex.
The inspection team rated Sussex Police as ‘good’ in two areas, highlighting its proactive approach to engaging its diverse local communities, treating them fairly and with respect, and its partnership approach to crime prevention.
Four other areas were rated as ‘adequate’ including how it protects vulnerable people, manages suspects and offenders, its business leadership and supporting and protecting its workforce.
However, the inspection team said the force must improve how it answers and attends calls for service, including identifying vulnerable callers consistently, and how it technically records crime – areas graded as inadequate.
It said the force must improve its long-term approach to investigations, noting the volume and complexity of crime “is outweighing the staff trained and available to investigate it”.
Chief Constable Jo Shiner welcomed the report and the opportunity to continue to work with HMICFRS to further improve services for the people of Sussex.
“We acknowledge the recommendations made in the report and take these very seriously. We have worked closely with the inspectorate over the past nine months to accelerate action plans against these, having identified response and investigations as areas requiring intense focus through our own internal review process.
“I remain absolutely committed to delivering the best possible service we can for the people of Sussex and I’m confident that changes already made have already significantly improved our position since last year.
“We are pleased the inspection team recognised our effectiveness at preventing crime and anti-social behaviour and our focus on targeting the most dangerous criminals, highlighting several areas of innovative practice, including our proactive approach to reducing knife crime.
“This important work contributes to Sussex remaining one of the safest places to live in the country despite both a growth in demand and, significantly, remaining one of the lowest funded police forces in the country.
“In the current context, it is also pleasing to see the force was found to be good at treating people fairly and with respect and to have an open and inclusive culture, where people feel supported to challenge unacceptable behaviour.
“This is critical to delivering an effective and ethical police service and I thank the everyday commitment of my colleagues - officers, staff and volunteers - as well as the incredible support of our local communities, who work with us to keep people safe.
“Inspectors referenced the ‘significant mental health demand’ now placed upon the police which has, out of necessity, become the service of first and last resort for people in crisis.
“I will continue to explore all avenues to enhance our services to ensure that police officers are kept free to police, respond to the public and investigate crime. This is what the public expects and deserves.”
Sussex is the sixth biggest county in England, spanning 1,461 square miles and with a resident population of 1.65m with millions of additional visitors, holidaymakers, students and seasonal workers.
The force currently has 3,191 police officers, 2,334 police staff and 252 PCSOs – a net increase of 387 police officers since 2019.
In 2022, 999 calls to the police increased by 14% compared to the previous year, equating to an extra 36,810 emergency calls, and reported crimes by 8.9% to 131,583.
The force has established improvement plans in place, including restructuring resources and investing in new technology in the contact centre to improve response times and ensure high volume, non-emergency crime is allocated more swiftly, putting dedicated resource into neighbourhood crime investigations and a full review of how crime recording is managed.