One of the most important policies of the manifesto I stood on at the General Election in 2019 was to get more police onto the streets.
Delivery of this is being undertaken on a local and national level. The Prime Minister was elected on a clear promise to increase officer numbers by 20,000 nationally. The first target of 6,000 new officers by March 2021 was reached ahead of schedule, including 129 extra officers for Sussex Police.
Our local force is recruiting a total of 379 officers under the leadership of the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne.
Police & Crime Commissioners are responsible for setting the budget of their local force – £310 million in Sussex – and I have seen at first hand over the last nine years Katy Bourne’s dedication to the role and to keeping people safe throughout our county.
Central government is working to ensure the police have the resources they need, boosting police funding in England and Wales by £636 million this year, meaning total funding is up to £15.8 billion in 2021-22.
As well as £400 million for the recruitment of 20,000 new officers by 2023, this sum includes £914 million for counter-terrorism policing and £1.1 billion to target national priorities such as reducing serious violence and clamping down on ‘county lines’, where illegal drugs are transported, often across police and/or local authority boundaries, usually by children or vulnerable people coerced into such behaviour by gangs.
This is an issue I have raised in Parliament and Sussex Police have been involved in work to stamp out this scourge from our society. I am reassured by Katy Bourne’s commitment to protecting our community from the consequences of such actions, and her recognition of the importance of continuing to identify and safeguard those most at risk.
Earlier this year it was confirmed that Sussex Police will receive an extra £880,000 to go towards Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) as part of more than an extra £35 million for forces in England and Wales. This means over 100,000 young people have been supported since VRUs were set up, with Government investment of over £100 million.
VRUs help bring together police and local government as well as health workers and education leaders to share information about the causes of violence and agree a co-ordinated plan of action to tackle it. This is crucial to preventing crime at a local level and the extra funding means that this work can carry on.
Katy Bourne’s commitment to continue the co-ordination of the VRU to reduce the risks to individuals is welcome and will help keep the wider community safe.
Henry Smith MP