The chief constable of Sussex Police has reassured the public that the force is ‘working smarter’ as it strives to keep the public safe in ‘challenging times’.
Giles York said the force was in need of modernising as it continues to face new challenges of operating with fewer people and reduced resources.
In an interview with Mail on Sunday he is reported to have questioned the need of visiting many victims of crime saying in some cases he saw ‘no added value’.
In a statement released this evening Mr York said: “People can be assured we are working smarter to keep them safe and feeling safe in Sussex.
“Sussex Police continues to make difficult decisions as it faces the challenge of operating with new demands and reduced resources.
“We do need to modernise the service we provide, and would be criticised if we didn’t. That means changes to aspects of the traditional service we have always provided.
“Everyone has their ideal view of what policing should be, however we need to hold on to areas of policing which are much valued and transform others as we face the challenge of operating with new demands and with fewer people.
“With new technology officers are freed from their desks to gather and record information, feeding it back in real time, increasing the time they can spend outside the police station engaging our communities face to face. Better informed, they are patrolling where they know they can make a difference and are sharing information with partners to provide better solutions and outcomes.”
He added: “We are striving to become more efficient in delivering an effective service, and our local policing is at the heart of significant improvements, ensuring we have effective Prevention Teams where and when they are needed most.
“We are an emergency service and we will always be there where people need us most, 24/7, 365 days a year, prioritising victims when there is the greatest risk of threat or harm.
“As with other police forces, we face greater demand than ever before with both 999 and 101 calls increasing. Our average response over the year is 3 minutes and 13 seconds to 101 calls, although during August we were particularly busy, in line with familiar annual trends in call figures.
“But the reality is, the public often don’t need to speak to us directly and many more are now choosing to report crimes online via our website or via email which is far more convenient for them and can be managed more efficiently by us. This by no means removes traditional face-to-face policing that is familiar to so many, but does ensure we use all our policing capability to best effect. By offering options people are empowered to choose and do things in their own time. I am fully aware that not everyone will have access to technology to report matters however, of course conventional means of contact are being retained.
“We have successfully developed an Investigations and Resolution Centre that provides timely support and advice for victims without the need for a physical visit. In its first year it reduced the need for officers to attend in 42,000 cases. This has saved victims’ time, travelling time, time lost through broken appointments and has enabled us to redeploy our officers to support and protect people with the greatest need and threat of harm.
“Working smarter allows my officers and staff to achieve more as they strive to keep people safe and feeling safe.
“We will always be there when we are most needed.”