Call for Sussex MPs to back police cuts rethink

Sussex MPs are being urged to back calls for the government to rethink plans to cut police funding.

Mark White, secretary of the Sussex Police Federation, has written to the region's MPs - 13 Conservative, two Liberal Democrat and one Green Party.

He said the cuts risked turning the force into a "dilapidated, demoralised fragment of its former self".

Sussex Police needs to lose about 500 officer posts and 250 staff posts to achieve savings of £52m by 2015.

Up to 300 police staff have already left the force since last November through a voluntary redundancy scheme.

'Significant risk'

In the letter to MPs, Mr White writes: "It has been noticeable that since the riots, public opinion regarding the proposed cuts to the policing budget has changed from ambivalence to concern.

"The riots have uniquely unified the whole of the police service and the public like never before.

"Most right-minded people realise that you cannot take 20% out of the policing budget without a significant risk to public service and law and order."

In December the government announced that central funding to police forces in England and Wales would fall to £9.3bn in 2011-12, then £8.8bn the year after.

Following the recent riots, Home Secretary Theresa May took issue with critics who said the government's planned 20% cuts to central police funding would lead to thousands of police officers' jobs being axed.

She said the cuts actually amounted to 6%, when other sources of funding were taken into account.

'Unnecessary cost'

Home Office minister and Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs, Nick Herbert, said: "There is absolutely no reason why a force being more efficient should mean that crime rises.

"I know that police forces across the UK and dedicated officers, PCSOs and staff are committed to ensuring that the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour is maintained.

"The government's overriding priority is to deal with the deficit and as a public service spending some £14bn a year the police can and must play their part.

"By working more efficiently and driving out unnecessary cost, we can find savings while protecting front line services."

However, Brighton Pavilion's Green MP Caroline Lucas said she shared the concerns of the Sussex Police Federation.

She said she thought the cuts to the police budget could cause "significant damage to the vital public service they provide".

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