'Community hubs' to replace Sussex police stations

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Media captionPolice stations will be kept in "higher demand" areas, the force said

Thirty police buildings in Sussex are set to close and be replaced with "community hubs", the county's police force has announced.

The changes are part of a five-year plan that follows a review of more than 100 police buildings.

Katy Bourne, the police and crime commissioner, said the force wanted to reduce the number of "out-dated and expensive police stations".

Sussex Police has to make £50m of government-prescribed savings by 2015.

The force said a number of its sites were "disproportionately expensive, old, in poor condition, inflexible and not suitable for our future needs".

Eleven actual police stations are earmarked for closure, including in Battle, Eastbourne, Newhaven and Uckfield.

It said police stations would remain and most would be redeveloped in the "high demand" areas of John Street Brighton, Bognor Regis, Chichester, Crawley, Eastbourne, Hastings, Haywards Heath and Lewes.

The force said it had identified 30 sites where buildings were in the wrong place, under-used or in poor repair, and could be moved to alternative nearby locations.

'Public contact points'

They include the police stations at Astley House, Battle, Burgess Hill, Centenary House, parts of Chichester, Crowborough, East Grinstead, Eastbourne, Heathfield, a hangar at Shoreham Airport, Horsham, Lancing, Littlehampton, Midhurst, Newhaven, Peacehaven, Petworth, Pulborough, Selsey, Shoreham, Steyning, Sussex House, Uckfield, Slaugham Manor Training Facility, and Unit 6, Cliff Industrial Estate.

Sussex House and Slaugham Manor stations are earmarked to close, and the 360 staff based there are proposed to be moved to police headquarters at Lewes.

Conservative Ms Bourne, said: "We've conducted a complete review to ensure the Sussex Police estate is fit for purpose and fit for the future.

Image caption Katy Bourne said the force wanted to reduce the number of "out-dated and expensive police stations"

"In the 21st Century people access police services in many different ways and so we are looking to reduce the number of out-dated and expensive police stations.

"We will replace them with community hubs and public contact points where a number of public services can be accessed in one location, like the example in Broadfield Library in Crawley and the Town Hall in Hove.

"It is about putting policing back at the heart of the community."

Broadfield Library has a neighbourhood policing hub and all the services that were based in Hove Police Station in Holland Road were relocated to Hove Town Hall in February.

The old Hove police station has been sold to Brighton and Hove City Council to provide extra school places for primary school children.

Chief Constable Martin Richards said: "Many people are attached to our traditional police stations, but they're often not convenient for people to get to.

"People have told us they want to see more of their neighbourhood policing team out in their community and to be able to talk to them at a convenient location, rather than having to travel to a police station and waiting to see someone at the front counter."

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