town’s Police station may cut opening hours

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RYE’S police station could have its opening hours reduced in new cost cutting measures.

Sussex Police have outlined the possibility as they look to make £52 million in savings.

There have already been concerns raised in Rye over the fact that the town’s police station no longer has cells, which means those arrested in the Rye area have to be taken to custody at Hastings or even Eastbourne.

As part of the Serving Sussex 2015 project the force is looking at how people use police stations.

The move was slammed by Rye councillor Mary Smith who said: “We are a major tourist destination and our town and our police, residents and traders cannot do without service like this.”

The review says most people only want to visit a police station during normal office hours, often for a pre-planned appointment. Nearly £2m per year could be saved by reducing opening hours in front offices in less busy stations.

Chief Constable Martin Richards, said: “It makes sense to reduce the opening hours at stations that receive only one or two visitors an hour. This money would be better spent on neighbourhood policing and keeping a police presence in rural communities.

“Many of the people visiting their local police station now do so for a pre-planned appointment.

“Each week Sussex Police offer nearly 1,500 hours of appointments. Members of the public find these more convenient so many police stations now receive very few, if any, visitors outside of peak times.

“We are looking at how we can do things differently, such as providing a police contact point in another building in the local community rather than the front office of a police station.

“Whatever changes are proposed we will consult with our communities to find out what services they want and need and how they would prefer these to be delivered. Many of the services offered by front offices could be provided in alternative ways, that could actually result in an improvement in service.”

The review has also been looking in detail at each of the Force’s 36 police stations and comparing them against a range of criteria. This has identified that some of them are not conveniently located for the public and are disproportionately expensive to maintain.

The review suggests that, if there are cheaper and better alternatives available, larger and more expensive buildings should be considered seriously as options for sale. This would protect the smaller, more rural stations.

Mr Richards said: “People have changed the way they use public services and this includes the police. We need to provide services at a time and in a way that the public want to use them. That means making greater use of appointments, putting smaller neighbourhood bases or contact points in the heart of communities, sharing front counter facilities with partners such as local councils or providing more of our services online.

“No final decisions have yet been made and we would like to hear the views of the public about how they would like to be able to contact us in the future.”

Sussex Police say they know they will have to find savings from somewhere but are determined not to let the service to the public suffer.

They say they are committed to neighbourhood policing and maintaining a policing presence in rural communities. But this means that the way in which services are delivered might have to change to pay for it.

Chief Constable Martin Richards said: “Sussex Police and Sussex Police Authority are committed to neighbourhood policing while also working to save money during these tough times.”

To get involved in the consultation on the future of policing in Sussex visit www.sussex.police.uk.