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Sussex 2017

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This is HMICFRS’ fourth PEEL (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) assessment of Sussex Police. PEEL is designed to give the public information about how their local police force is performing in several important areas, in a way that is comparable both across England and Wales, and year on year. The assessment is updated throughout the year with our inspection findings and reports.

The extent to which the force is effective at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.

The extent to which the force is efficient at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.

The extent to which the force is legitimate at keeping people safe and reducing crime is good.

Zoë Billingham, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary

Contact Zoë Billingham

HMI's observations

Read my assessment of Sussex Police below.

I am pleased with the performance of Sussex Police in keeping people safe and reducing crime, and in particular with the improvement in its effectiveness. However, the force needs to make further improvements to provide a consistently good service.

Sussex Police has improved the way it investigates crime and deals with vulnerable people, and it is good at tackling serious and organised crime. It has worked hard to improve crime prevention and anti-social behaviour, but the new prevention teams need to engage with their communities effectively.

Sussex Police understands its demand, and is improving its understanding of what affects demand. It needs to focus on securing sufficient resource to meet its demand and on understanding the skills and capabilities of its workforce.

The force treats the people it serves with fairness and respect and sets a clear expectation that its workforce will behave ethically and lawfully. It needs to be more effective at prioritising staff wellbeing and communicating with the workforce.

Overall, I commend Sussex Police for the significant progress it has made since last year, and will continue to monitor the force’s progress in areas where there is still more to do.


How effective is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 22/03/2018

Sussex Police is good at keeping people safe and reducing crime.

HMICFRS is pleased to see that Sussex Police has made significant progress from its 2016 effectiveness inspection. The force has made considerable efforts to ensure that changes have been made throughout the force.

The force has worked hard to improve its response to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, and the new model for prevention, to be fully implemented in November 2017, shows promise. Preparation to implement this fully in November 2017 has been comprehensive and the areas for improvement that we have identified in this report should be addressed once the new model is in place. We are looking forward to seeing progress on our next inspection.

The force is good at investigating crime and reducing re-offending. It has significantly improved the standard of its investigations, which are supervised effectively, with a high standard of victim care, particularly in specialist units. The force has improved its response to incidents, which has had a positive effect on investigations. Most investigations dealt with by telephone are well handled, although the force should ensure that crimes are always investigated by people with the correct skills.

The force has made major improvements to the way it protects vulnerable people. Officers and staff understand that vulnerability is a priority, and improvements have also been made to the way the force supports vulnerable victims of crime, particularly victims of domestic abuse. The force has effective partnership working arrangements in place to safeguard victims.

Sussex Police has an effective approach to tackling serious and organised crime. It monitors organised crime groups well, in collaboration with local partners. The force is also proactive in the way it prevents serious and organised crime. It works effectively with victims to prevent repeat crimes against them, and also diverts potential perpetrators from organised crime. The force makes good use of specialist capabilities provided at a regional level, and works closely with the National Crime Agency to bring organised criminals to justice.

Sussex Police has the necessary arrangements in place to fulfil its national responsibilities under the Strategic Policing Requirement. It is well prepared to respond to a terrorist attack.

View the five questions for effectiveness


How efficient is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 09/11/2017

Sussex Police is judged to be good in the efficiency with which it keeps people safe and reduces crime. Our overall judgment this year is the same as last year. The force is judged to be good in its understanding of demand; it is judged to require improvement for its use of resources to manage demand; and its planning for future demand is judged to be good.

Sussex Police has a good understanding of demand for its services. The force has carried out demand analysis on specific areas of activity and has expanded its understanding of demand through its work on the local policing model and other change programmes. The force recognises it could do more to improve its understanding of hidden demand, and is taking steps to bring all of its demand analysis together to give it a better overall picture.

The force is improving its understanding of the things that affect demand. Some inefficient processes in the control room may have contributed to a large number of 101 calls being abandoned, but the force is taking action to address this problem. It does not have a single governance process for managing efficiency and relies on its engagement with the workforce to identify inefficient processes and systems. The force has a limited understanding of the skills and capabilities of its workforce, including its leaders, because it has not undertaken a force-wide skills and capabilities audit. This makes it difficult to plan recruitment and training.

The force has allocated resources based on its new local policing model but an unanticipated increase in demand since the model was introduced means the workforce is stretched and the force is struggling to meet demand. Neighbourhood policing, and therefore prevention activity, is being negatively affected by reduced resources. The force is monitoring this closely.

The force works well with other agencies to reduce demand collectively and has strong collaborative arrangements with other police forces and partner organisations. Its collaboration with East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service shows early signs of developing into an effective partnership arrangement. The force has a good understanding of the benefits of new technology and is collaborating with Surrey Police on an IT strategy. It is open to innovative ideas and works with external companies, consultants and academics to seek improvements. The force’s plans are realistic and have been subject to external scrutiny and challenge. Financial plans are well integrated with workforce and IT plans. The force aims to achieve its savings targets while investing for the future.

View the three questions for efficiency


How legitimate is the force at keeping people safe and reducing crime?

Last updated 12/12/2017

Sussex Police is good at how legitimately it keeps people safe and reduces crime. For the areas of legitimacy we looked at this year, our overall judgment is the same as last year. The force is good at treating the people it serves with fairness and respect. It is also good at how well it ensures its workforce behaves ethically and lawfully. The force requires improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats its workforce with fairness and respect.

Sussex Police and its workforce are good at treating people with fairness and respect. The workforce understand the importance of using their coercive powers fairly and respectfully. However, they would benefit from more regular training on effective communication skills and as well as force-wide unconscious bias training. The force should continue to ensure all officers and supervisors understand what constitutes reasonable grounds for stop and search.

The force needs to enhance internal and external scrutiny of stop and search and use of force to improve how it treats people. The new joint legitimacy board with Surrey Police will provide more comprehensive scrutiny. Independent advisory groups with a diverse membership and a wide range of community groups provide external scrutiny.

Sussex Police is good at ensuring that its workforce behave ethically and lawfully and the Code of Ethics is understood throughout the force. Members of the public who want to make a complaint can find clear information on the force’s website. The force investigates most complaints well, including those that involve discrimination. However, it should improve its compliance with Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) statutory guidance on providing complainants with information and on referring allegations of discrimination to the IPCC, and ensure it provides timely updates to those who are the subject of a complaint.

The force has made significant progress in addressing disproportionality in recruiting and retaining officers and staff.

Sussex Police requires improvement in some aspects of the way in which it treats its workforce with fairness and respect. Although the force has ways for the workforce to provide feedback and challenge, they are not working well. The workforce feel disconnected from senior leaders and are very concerned about managing increased demand for services with fewer resources. The force needs to be more effective at prioritising workforce wellbeing. It also needs to improve how it manages individual performance and development, as well as processes for talent management and temporary promotions.

View the three questions for legitimacy

Other inspections

How well has the force performed in our other inspections?

In addition to the three core PEEL pillars, HMICFRS carries out inspections of a wide range of policing activity throughout the year. Some of these are conducted alongside the PEEL inspections; others are joint inspections.

Findings from these inspections are published separately to the main PEEL reports, but are taken into account when producing the rounded assessment of each force's performance.

Last updated 11/04/2018

Sussex – Joint inspection of police custody – published on 28 March 2017

Abuse of position assessment – Sussex Police – published on 5 October 2017

View other reports

Key facts – 2019/20

Force Area

1,462 square miles


1.72m people
up8% local 10 yr change


87% frontline police officers
92% national level
3.13 per 1000 population
3.69 national level
down1% 10yr change in local workforce
down5% 10yr national change

Victim-based crimes

0.05 per person
0.06 national level
up7% Local 5 year trend
up9% National 5 year trend


49p per person per day local
59p per person per day national

Points of context provided by the force

  • The area covers the rural and urban counties of East and West Sussex and the city of Brighton and Hove. The force works closely with Surrey Police.
  • Sussex has millions of visitors each year from the UK and overseas, including 39 million passengers travelling through Gatwick Airport.

Police and crime plan priorities

A PCP sets out the police and crime commissioner’s (PCC’s) priorities for policing and the resources the PCC has allocated to the chief constable for achieving these priorities.