Sussex Police

Sussex Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing the county of Sussex in southern England (consisting of East Sussex, West Sussex and the city of Brighton and Hove). Its headquarters is located in Malling House, Lewes, East Sussex.[3]

Sussex Police
Agency overview
FormedJanuary 1, 1968
Annual budget£237.1 million[1]
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionEast Sussex, West Sussex, City of Brighton and Hove, UK
Map of Sussex Police area
Size3,783 square kilometres (1,461 sq mi)
Population1.6 million
Legal jurisdictionEngland & Wales
Constituting instrument
General nature
HeadquartersLewes, East Sussex
Constables2,847 (including special constables)[2]
Police Community Support Officers372[1]
Police and Crime Commissioner responsible
Agency executive


Policing in the county can be traced back to the first force established in Brighton in 1830. A few years later on 13 March 1844 Chief Constable Henry Solomon was murdered in his office by a prisoner he was interviewing. He is believed to be the only chief officer to have suffered such a fate. Prior to 1830 local watchmen were appointed to provide some degree of law enforcement in the area. In 1812, there were some 12 watchmen who were responsible for the town. By 1814 the number had grown to 28 and at this time the title of constable was in use for them. By 1868 the force had grown to 100 officers and helmets replaced top hats. In 1918 the first woman was appointed as a police officer in this force and by 1930 it had grown to 216 officers. On 14 September 1933, Brighton Police were the first force to introduce police radios.

Forces were established for the counties of East Sussex and West Sussex, as well as separate forces in the boroughs of Brighton, Hove, Eastbourne and Hastings. These forces amalgamated temporarily during the Second World War, from 1943 until 1947, but then, with the exception of Hove, policing reverted to the old system for another two decades. Hove remained part of East Sussex Constabulary.

On 1 January 1968 Sussex Constabulary was created from the amalgamation of Brighton Borough Police, Eastbourne Borough Police, Hastings Borough Police, West Sussex Constabulary and East Sussex Constabulary. In 1974 the amalgamated forces became Sussex Police.[4]

Chief Constables

Brighton Constabulary
  • Henry Solomon appointed 18 May 1838 (murdered in 1844 by prisoner)
  • Thomas Hayter Chase appointed 22 May 1844
  • George White appointed 21 December 1853
  • Owen Crowhurst appointed 7 December 1876
  • Isaiah Barnden appointed 8 August 1877
  • James Terry appointed 6 April 1881
  • Thomas Carter appointed 27 January 1894
  • Sir William Gentle appointed 26 September 1901
  • Charles Griffin appointed 5 June 1920
  • William James Hutchinson appointed 1 December 1933
  • Charles Field Williams Ridge appointed 1 July 1956
  • Albert Edgar Rowsell appointed 28 October 1957
  • William Thomas Cavey appointed 8 October 1963[5]
  • Brighton amalgamated with East Sussex Constabulary, West Sussex Constabulary, Hastings and Eastbourne Constabularies to form Sussex Constabulary, 1968
Sussex Constabulary


Sussex Police is commanded by Chief Constable Giles York.[9] The remainder of the command team consists of Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner, Assistant Chief Constable Julia Chapman, and Assistant Chief Constable Dave Miller. Also forming part of the command team are the Assistant Chief Officer, the Director of Finance and Chief Information Officer although these roles are filled by civilian members of staff.[10]

The force consists of three divisions, each being led by a chief superintendent. As at September 2019 West Sussex was led by Chief Superintendent Jerry Westerman, East Sussex by Chief Superintendent Tanya Jones and Brighton & Hove by Chief Superintendent Nick May. Divisions are sub-divided into districts, each led by a chief inspector, providing a local identity for policing. These districts are Chichester, Arun, Horsham, Adur & Worthing, Crawley, Mid Sussex, Brighton & Hove, Wealden, Lewes, Eastbourne, Rother and Hastings.

Sussex Police is also responsible for policing Gatwick Airport.

Districts are further divided into Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs), each led by an inspector. The NPTs are responsible for the bulk of the community work undertaken in an area, and look to deal with long term local issues including anti-social behaviour. Their role stems from the traditional view of 'bobbies on the beat' with police community support officers (PCSOs) providing a high visibility profile on the street, albeit with limited policing powers. Special Constables also serve alongside various teams including NRT, Prevention and on specialist teams such as RPU and Dogs units. Sussex police stated they would try to solve less serious crimes online or by phone and focus resources only on offences with the “biggest impact”.[11] Funding cuts are blamed for this.[12]

Police response is covered by Neighborhood Response Teams (NRT) operating from a number of "hub" stations across the area and providing the initial response to most emergency and prompt attendance calls. These teams are led locally by a sergeant and overall they are managed by an inspector. These teams work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Secondary investigation of crime not dealt with by specialist teams - for example CID - is managed by Response Investigation Teams (RIT) who work closely with the NRT.

Sussex Police officer and staff numbers:
2007/08[13]2008/09[14]2009/10[15]2010/11[16]2011/12[17] 2012/13[18] 2013/14[19] 2014/15[20] 2015/16[21] 2016/17[22]
Police Officers 3,0753,1963,2133,1022,959 2,847 2,805 2,810 2,666 2,587
Special Constables 199216240293348 350 366 393 387 301
PCSOs 372399377351335 358 349 325 249 180
Police Staff 1,9742,0802,1391,9491,881 1,911 1,941 1,837 1,831 1,831

Police and Crime Commissioner

Oversight of Sussex Police was provided by Sussex Police Authority until November 2012, when this role was taken over by a police and crime commissioner following the first elections. Katy Bourne was elected police and crime commissioner for Sussex Police on 15 November 2012, with a majority of 24,426.

The police and crime commissioner is scrutinised by the Sussex Police and Crime Panel, made up of elected councillors from the local authorities in the police area.

Specialist units

Air Support Unit

Sussex Police used to operate an MD-902 helicopter, callsign Hotel 900 jointly with the South East Coast Ambulance Service, providing both policing and emergency medical support to Sussex and beyond. Today all police aviation in England and Wales is conducted by the National Police Air Service. The closest NPAS base to Sussex Police is at Redhill Aerodrome in neighbouring Surrey. The helicopters call-sign is NPAS 15 and it has a registration of G-CPAS. This aircraft was previously used by Cleveland Police until NPAS was formed.


Sussex Police has a dedicated Counter-Terrorist Intelligence Unit (CTIU) which works alongside the rest of the force in protecting and reassuring the public, and reducing the risk from terrorism. The unit engages with communities, local authorities, higher education and universities and other local bodies, in order to prevent violent extremism. The unit also offers specialist protective security advice to locations deemed to be at a greater risk from terrorism.

The CTIU is involved in the disruption and detection of terrorist activity and has close links between local police and the communities it serves. It also works at ports and airports alongside UK Visas and Immigration.[23]

Dog Unit

Police dogs and their handlers are huge assets to the force and hold a vitally important role in safeguarding the whole of Sussex. General purpose dogs are one of the most affective means for tracking, chasing and detaining suspects, searching for stolen property and missing people, and assisting public order units with crowd control. Specialist search dogs are used for drug, cash and weapon recovery, for detecting explosives and for following the scent of a specific person. Dog handlers are also trained to deal with dangerous dogs.[24]

Emergency & Operations Planning

The Emergency and Planning Team provides Sussex Police with the ability to plan for major incidents, natural disasters and large policing operations that occur throughout the communities of Sussex. The team delivers specialist equipment to front line officers, staff for operations and tactical advice to police commanders; this helps to deliver the best service possible to the public during critical times. The team also has responsibilities with regards to business continuity, local resilience partnership working and contingency planning.[24]

Roads Policing Unit (RPU)

The Road Policing Unit (RPU) covers the whole force from three bases. The primary aims of RPU are to deny criminals the use of the road, tackle anti-social driving such as mobile phone use and drink-driving and to bring down the number of KSI (killed and seriously injured) casualties on the roads of Sussex. Vehicles in use include fully marked BMW 530d Touring estates and Land Rover Discovery also BMW BMW R1200RT motorcycles. Another vehicle they have Ford Galaxys are used by Forensic Collision Investigation teams - these are based at Arundel, Lewes & Hastings. They also use a number of unmarked vehicles of various types fitted with covert warning equipment. Sussex RPU is also the only Police force in the country to have a marked BMW M315i which is used for duties, as well as being the 'poster' car on a lot of Police publications.

Specialist Search Unit (SSU)

This unit was disbanded in June 2015, due to cuts in the police budget.[24][25]

Prior to disbandment Specialist Search Unit officers searched where other police officers could not go. They were trained to search in demanding environments that needed specialist equipment, such as underwater (mostly inland waters), at height, in flooded areas as in the Lewes floods in 2000, and confined spaces. The team were experts in searching for missing people, stolen property, drugs, weapons and firearms, and they were also licensed to find and identify improvised explosive devices. A police boat was used by the unit to undertake marine patrols along the Sussex coastline and during diving operations.[24]

Tactical Firearms Unit (TFU)

Firearms officers are deployed to incidents involving the use of firearms or other lethal weapons either on a spontaneous or pre-planned basis. They are able to be deployed across all of Sussex, dealing with high priority crime such as drugs, burglary and violent crime. All tactical firearms (TFU) officers are trained in conflict resolution methods, meaning every incident is resolved using the minimum amount of force necessary. Non-lethal methods used by officers include the Baton Gun for firing rubber bullets and the Taser stun-gun. Officers are rigorously trained in threat assessment and perception, ready to make split-second decisions to protect the public against threats of violence. Officers are required to complete a two-year probationary period as firearms officers at Gatwick Airport after completing initial training.[24]

Sussex Police Authority

Sussex Police Authority had nine councillors (drawn from the three councils), three justices of the peace and five independent members. In November 2012, elections were held for the first police and crime commissioner for Sussex who took office on 22 November 2012. At that point the Police Authority ceased to exist.[26]

Old Police Cells Museum

Opened on 4 May 2005 by Councillor Pat Drake, the then mayor of Brighton & Hove, the Old Police Cells Museum is located in the basement of Brighton Town Hall and offers an educational and entertaining insight into the history of policing within Sussex.

It provides an opportunity to visit Brighton Borough main police station for the period 1830 to 1967 and learn about the murder of Chief Constable Henry Solomon in 1844 by a prisoner. It is possible to view the old cells with their graffiti from the mods and rockers era, the policemen's wash room and uniform store areas, police memorabilia and artifacts. The museum also houses a unique collection of truncheons and tipstaffs, one of the largest in the country. This collection was made by Alderman Caffyn throughout his lifetime and is on permanent loan to the Museum from the Sussex Police Authority.[24]

Police cadets

Sussex Police, like many other forces in the UK, has police cadets. There are around 200 operational cadets in Sussex Police. Cadets within the VCC (Volunteer Cadet Corps) often have duties at police stations across Sussex. They have a similar uniform to non-operational police officers and police staff which consists of:

Standard issue white shirt and black tie, black trousers. Epaulette saying "cadet" and a visible rank designation (normally chevrons). Standard issue police cap with a blue band and Sussex Police crest saying 'Sussex VCC'

Cadets learn many police skills as well as a student officer syllabus in preparation for joining as an officer. They also assist at public events and displays.

Future plans

Proposals were made by the Home Secretary on 20 March 2006 to merge the force with Surrey Police forming a single strategic police force for Sussex and Surrey.[27] Opposed by both Sussex Police and Surrey Police, the plans were effectively abandoned by the Home Office in July 2006.[28]

In a report published by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in July 2011,[29] the impact on the number of police officers and staff partly due to the reduction to Sussex Police's budget following the comprehensive spending review is as follows:

Police officers Police staff PCSOs Total
31 March 2010 (actual) 3,2132,1553775,745
31 March 2015 (proposed) 2,7131,6053774,695

In common with other UK forces, Sussex is being forced to save 20% from its budget by 2015. Whilst efforts are being made to minimise the impact of these cuts, inevitably there have been, and continue to be reductions in the numbers of warranted officers and police staff. In September 2010, Chief Constable Martin Richards announced plans to cut up to 1,050 police officers and staff over the following five years, saying that job cuts were inevitable as the force faced estimated budget cuts of £52m by 2015.It was estimated that about 500 of the affected jobs would be police officers.[30]

On 10 May 2012, off-duty officers from Sussex police joined an estimated 30,000 others from around the UK to protest at the cutbacks in a march through London.[31]

Online initiatives

In November 2011 Sussex Police became the first force worldwide to live stream unedited footage during a 24-hour period.[32]

Published in March 2012 Sussex Police became the first force in the UK to launch a mobile based app for reporting crime.[33]

Sussex Police Roll of Honour

A list of officers of Sussex Police and its predecessors who died on duty (in progress) is provide by the national police charity, the Police Roll of Honour Trust.[34]

NameRankAgeForceDate of deathCircumstances
William James Avis, DCMSgt47West Sussex Constabulary26 February 1942Shot.
Arthur WallsInsp44Eastbourne Borough Police9 October 1912Shot.
Jeffrey Barry James TooleyPC26Sussex Police24 April 1999Fatally injured by a speeding van, which failed to stop at a road check.
Henry SolomonCC50Brighton Borough Police14 March 1844Bludgeoned with poker.
Thomas RowlesPC47Parish of Brighthelmstone6 November 1817Fatally wounded when accidentally bayoneted by the military during a riot.
Albert Edward CraigPC31Brighton Borough Police16 November 1940Fatally injured in a collision with a motor lorry while cycling to duty.
Lawrence HolfordWRC48Brighton Borough Police30 April 1941Killed on duty as two allied aircraft collided and he was hit by debris.
Harold StoneWRC40Brighton Borough Police18 December 1942Killed by enemy action whilst on duty during an enemy air raid.
Frank William BarkerPC33Brighton Borough Police25 May 1943Killed in an enemy air raid after moving a party of children to safety.
Kenneth GrinsteadPC31Brighton Borough Police25 May 1943Killed by enemy action whilst on duty during an enemy air raid.
Arthur Frederick YerrillPC57Brighton Borough Police5 October 1951Fatally injured when he fell alighting from a bus while reporting for duty.
Dennis John OwensSgt37Eastbourne Borough Police26 October 1940Killed dealing with an unexploded bomb following an enemy air raid.
Nelson Oliver Hugh KempSPC33Hastings Borough Police26 September 1940Killed in an enemy air raid, duty status unknown.
John KingPC38Hastings Borough Police1 July 1955Collapsed and died at St. Leonards shortly after reporting for night duty.

Key to rank abbreviations: A/x = Acting • CC = Chief Constable • ACC = Assistant Chief Constable • CEO = Civilian Explosives Officer • Cmdr = Commander • DC = Detective Constable • DI = Detective Inspector • DS = Detective Sergeant • Insp = Inspector • PC = Police Constable • Sgt = Sergeant • SPC = Special Police Constable • Stn Sgt = Station Sergeant • Supt = Superintendent • WPC = Woman Police Constable • WRC = War Reserve Constable.

Road casualties in Sussex

As well as preventing and detecting crime, Sussex Police have a responsibility to reduce the number of casualties on the roads. Additionally, in her 2012 PCC election manifesto, Katy Bourne said that the biggest issue raised in her Sussex Crime Survey was road safety. "Katy will encourage the police to target accident ‘black spots’ and high risk drivers and continue ‘Operation Crackdown’ to tackle anti-social driving."[35] The following table shows the combined total figures for the number of casualties on the roads of East Sussex, West Sussex, and Brighton and Hove for the most recent five years for which data is available.[36][37][38][39][40][41]

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

See also


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 November 2009. Retrieved 2011-01-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Tables for 'Police workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2013". HM Government. Office for National Statistics. 31 March 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  3. "Non-emergency enquiries." (Archive) Sussex Police. Retrieved on 13 February 2011. "Sussex Police Headquarters Church Lane, Lewes East Sussex, BN7 2DZ."
  4. "police Recruitment History of Sussex Police" Archived 7 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  5. "SPI" Archived 24 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. "Old Police Cells Museum". Old Police Cells Museum. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  7. "Chief Police Officers". House of Commons. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  8. "Chief constable announces his retirement". The Argus. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  9. In December 2013 Martin Richards announced that he would retire in 2014.Policing Today 9 Dec 2013 Archived 14 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. "Sussex police - Who Are We"
  11. Police 'to give up on minor crimes without major funding increase' The Guardian
  12. Now ANOTHER police force gives up solving minor crimes: Officers in Sussex accused of concealing cuts by trying to solve cases over the phone
  13. Home Office (July 2008). Police Service Strength.
  14. Home Office (July 2009). Police Service Strength.
  15. Home Office (July 2010). Police Service Strength.
  16. Home Office (July 2011). Police Service Strength.
  17. Home Office (July 2012). Police Service Strength.
  18. "Tables for 'Police workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2013' - GOV.UK". Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  19. "Police workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2014 - GOV.UK". Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  20. "Police workforce, England and Wales: 31 March 2015 - GOV.UK". Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  21. "Police workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2016 - GOV.UK". Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  22. "Police workforce, England and Wales: 31 March 2017 - GOV.UK". Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  23. Archived 11 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  24. "Sussex Police Website"
  25. Hello (4 June 2015). "Cuts Have Consequences campaign launched by Sussex Police Federation". Bexhill Observer. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  26. "SPCC Website" Archived 5 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  27. BBC NEWS | Politics | Police forces 'to be cut to 24'
  28. BBC NEWS | England | Southern Counties | Forces happy at 'no merger' news
  29. HMIC (July 2011). Valuing the Police: Preparedness Inspection - Sussex Police.
  30. "Sussex Police to cut 1,050 jobs - BBC News". Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  31. "Police March In London May 2012". Archived from the original on 6 September 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  32. Sussex Police People (November 2011). Sussex Police People archive pages and blogs.
  33. Keep up to date with what’s happening in Sussex with Sussex Police’s mobile website. .
  34. "Police Roll of Honour Trust"
  35. "in touch" "News from Katy Bourne and Sussex Conservatives" 2012 PCC election manifesto.
  36. "[ARCHIVED CONTENT] UK Government Web Archive – The National Archives". 30 September 2011. Archived from the original on 30 September 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  40. West Sussex council. Summary casualty data for West Sussex.
  41. Brighton and Hove City Council. Road collision and casualty data.
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