On Tuesday this week I attended the local Panel meeting for Victoria and Dunstall Ward, where the topic was crime and in attendance were two officers from the cyber crime squad and Inspector Paul Wood, the senior officer in charge of Mid Sussex Policing.
From the cyber team we were given various examples of ways to prevent being defrauded online. This crime is fast becoming one of the most common, as (often older) people are conned into giving away information through their computer which then leads to them being stripped of their money. Among other tips we heard were:- change passwords regularly, don’t use obvious passwords eg ‘123123’, ‘football’ etc; make use of password manager; use two factor authentification.
Inspector Paul Wood took over from Paul Tomlinson in January this year. He told us that in general crime rates eg for burglaries, violence, are down on previous years and are still falling, whereas crime detection is rising. He confirmed that Mid Sussex is a low crime area, and that most of the problems concern young people and minor crimes such as damage to property (often high spirited or alcohol-fuelled )
When asked by me about the effects of budgetary cuts, he told us that over the next 5 years Sussex Police have to save £57 million (unless the Autumn Statement says more!) on top of the cost cutting which has already been carried out. He conceded that :-
- in 2016 there will be a 29% reduction in numbers of PCSOs
- there will be a reduction in numbers of PCs
- a Neighbourhood policing team would still be maintained but they may be less available in future
- there will still be police on duty 24/7, but staff will “have to be more flexible”
- across Mid Sussex, incidents will have to be dealt with by the on-duty teams eg incidents in BH might have to be dealt with by officers in East Grinstead
- in emergency there will always be a police response
- The plan is to establish planning call centre response teams who will make judgements about crimes phoned in and reported ie whether it needs a response and of what kind.
Inspector Wood is clearly a man whose job is going to get more difficult, and he admitted that there would be less police visibility in towns like Burgess Hill. It was generally agreed at the meeting that crime rate falling was probably mostly due to a reduction in numbers of crimes reported. Inspector Wood did not disagree.