Custody centre changes will keep pace with changing demands
The custody service across Sussex is being modernised to ensure it is efficient and fit for the future
The changes proposed will lead to dedicated resources by partner agencies at custody centres.
The custody estate, comprising six centres based at Worthing, Crawley, Chichester, Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings, was last reviewed in 2002 and there have been ongoing discussions to help keep pace with significant changing demands on the service.
Since its peak the number of detainees in Sussex has reduced by more than half in the last 10 years, with a reduction seen by forces across the country.
This significant drop is due to changes in legislation and alternative disposal options being available, such as cautions and community resolutions, meaning fewer people going through the traditional custody route.
Chief Constable Giles York said: “It is vital that that we continue to improve the efficiency of our custody centres and make Sussex fit for the future. The decisions we have made are driven by a need to make the best use of our resources and will lead to dedicated resources at custody centres and a better service to officers, staff, detainees and visitors.
“Introducing new approaches, optimising working practices and strengthening how we work with partners means we continue to modernise so that we keep pace with and meet the significant changing demands of our service.”
It is after detailed analysis and discussions with the Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne and divisional officers, staff and senior officers, that the force has mapped out its plans for modernisation with plans to significantly developed one centre and close another.
As well as enhanced centres with dedicated resources, it has put a proposal to the Commissioner to reopen Hastings custody centre permanently once essential work is completed. The centre, closed since October, requires significant development to meet fire safety regulations and provide a safe environment.
With Chichester custody centre having the lowest usage of the six custody centres it has been decided it would be of operational benefit to maximise the use of Worthing custody centre and close the one in Chichester in November.
The decision to close Chichester custody centre has not been taken lightly. It is being driven by a need to make the best use of resources, with savings being reinvested to provide extra resources within local policing, with additional investigations and response officers.
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “The custody centres of Sussex Police are part of the wider police estate for which I have a statutory responsibility. I need to ensure there are sufficient and appropriate facilities for detainees and police officers.
“Any decision to maintain, close or move any of the custody suites is primarily an operational decision informed by a thorough evidence-based assessment.
“Working with chief officers, we must also consider whether facilities are safe for vulnerable and distressed individuals.
“I will be considering the proposal to invest in and modernise Hastings custody centre, which I know will be warmly welcomed by many officers and local residents and legal professionals.”