Serious concern over police recruitment

Current Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne (right) with a police officer

Once again I feel compelled to write in the hope that my letter will be published in order to ensure that the public of Sussex are made aware of the truth about police officer numbers in Sussex.

Sadly, this is necessary because once again our PCC Katy Bourne is hiding the true picture from residents. In her latest newsletter of 18 March 2022, she suggests that recruitment of police officers is on track and refers to another anticipated uplift for the coming financial year of 2022/2023. However, Sussex Police, and indeed many other forces, are experiencing real difficulties over the retention of police officers.

At my request, the force supplied me earlier this month with the following information. During the financial year 2021/22 Sussex Police received government funding for an increase of 122 from the national programme to increase police officer numbers by 20,000 across the country. The PCC, through the council tax precept, provided funding for an additional 30 officers. Gatwick Airport reduced its funding for police officers there and therefore the force offset this by using the 30 posts under the precept increase to use these officers across the force to the benefit of the general population.

In brief, this meant that Sussex Police would receive a net increase of 122 officer posts over the financial year.

I have been informed that recruitment plans for the year take account of predictions for those that leave the service as well as achieving the increase. So planning for the year was to recruit 300 officers.

However, I have been told that there has been a spike in leavers in the past three months and in particular for February and March. Additionally, there has been a recent increase in transfers to other forces, not the Metropolitan Police, but much further afield as officers are following what a lot of people are doing in moving to cheaper areas of the country.

With regard to other leavers, i.e. resignations, there have been 100 over the year which are split just about 50/50 of student officers (fewer than two years service) and those with two years or more service. I know from information received from the National Police Chiefs Council that Sussex has the 9th worst record of officers leaving with less than two years service of the 43 forces in England & Wales.

In summary, therefore, for the period March 2021 to March 2022 :

The force recruited 301.90 new officers to the force – student officers, transferees, etc

  • 211.32 Officers left the force:-
    • 5 dismissed
    • 5.90 early retirement (medical)
    • 101.82 resignations
    • 78.05 retirements
    • 20.55 transfer to other forces (however 27 transferred into Sussex Police during the period)
  • This means that there is a net increase of 90.58 officers over the period. Therefore, the force will end up around 32 short of the 122 in terms of a net gain.

The final year of the government’s uplift programme starts in April 2022. Sussex has been given funding for 163 officers with a further 20 funded from the council tax precept so a net increase of 183. I have been informed that the force will need to recruit over 300 new officers by April 2023. Taking into account what has previously gone on, this is a stiff challenge by anyone’s assessment!

In conclusion, and this is the bottom line, the force still does not have the same numbers as it did in 2010 and this is still likely to be the case come March 2023 when additional government funding ceases. This is why levels of policing service continues to fail to meet public expectations.

Therefore Mrs Bourne, please stop issuing your political propaganda and tell the truth!

Image Credits: David McHugh .


  1. Kevin Moore raises some serious issues which affect the well being of every family in our area. Police numbers do matter and visible police presence on our streets is crucial in providing public reassurance. Use of all police resources, people, equipment, technology and intelligence need to be deployed effectively together to produce the best possible outcomes.
    The other critical factor is leadership as in all human organisations. I had the good fortune to chair the old Sussex Police Authority when the force was led by outstanding Chief Constables like Sir Ken Jones who transformed the organisation after we had had to seek the removal of his predecessor. He persuaded us to support him to increase numbers and innovate with the introduction of PCSOs to raise visibility on our streets. Currently, I do not detect the same clarity or innovation but hope that our new Chief Constable will provide initiatives that are effective and genuinely reassure our communities. It is time for some positive change.

    Peter Jones CBE
    Chairman Sussex Police Authority 2006/8.


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