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A CHARITY supporting elderly victims of abuse has criticised Sussex Police for selling used uniforms on eBay after two pensioners were conned by fake officers.
The force, which is facing a £26.5m funding gap, started selling confiscated or found items through the popular online auction site in 2015 and is now selling old police uniforms.
Two fake cops dressed as officers with a replica badge told the elderly Brighton residents last month that recent work carried out on their homes had been done by bogus builders.
They then lied to the pair, saying they needed money to pay for court fees and the woman handed over £6,000 and the man a further £3,000.
Stephen McCarthy, director for England of Action on Elder Abuse, a charity working to prevent the abuse of vulnerable older adults, told The Argus: “It doesn’t seem like the brightest idea.
“It is just asking for trouble.
“Given how seriously the police take impersonating an officer, it seems a bit strange to be giving criminals a helping hand in doing so.
“Looking at the eBay page, you can see where the Velcro attachments with the police insignia would go.
“Why make it that much easier by seeming to be selling garments that the police have worn?
“For the amount of money it doesn’t seem worth the risk.
“We would suggest that Sussex Police rethink that approach.”
Yellow high visibility coats, police jackets and trousers have been put on sale through eBay.
The force said the online shop has been generating money.
A Sussex Police spokesman said: “By selling these items we have been able generate significant income for the force which would not previously have been available as well as being able to save a significant amount on our waste costs.”
One of the first items to go on sale was a DVD copy of Fifty Shades of Grey.
The force insists none of the police uniform items on sale could be used by criminals and the sale is approved by chief officers.
A spokesman added: “Any contentious items such as helmets, body armour, handcuffs etc and items where branding cannot be removed are never sold through the Sussex Police eBay store and are disposed of by secure methods to ensure they cannot get into the wrong hands.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne has warned 480 officers and staff could be lost if more money cannot be found.
She said the multi-million pound shortfall could cost around 480 posts by 2022.
Ms Bourne is pushing for a council tax hike to raise more money for the force.
She said: “This is not a decision that I have taken lightly but I believe it is the right one to sustain the local policing which is so important to all our communities.”
Source: The Argus