In August of last year the a letter from me was published under the heading, ‘Where is our police station?’.
In 2013, Sussex Police announced that it was going to close 18 stations, which included my local one in Lancing, and that it was going to replace them with front desks and offices inside public and private buildings. These would include libraries and possibly supermarkets.
Since then Lancing has remained a ‘By appointment only’ one, with a locked front door and a telephone on the wall outside.
However, only eight months after my letter appeared, things are moving, but definitely not in the right direction.
Without, as far as I am aware, any publicity whatsoever, the telephone has been moved from the police station wall to that of the Parish Offices, which are nearly a mile away, and a notice has gone up proclaiming ‘Lancing Police Base by appointment only’.
Still no front desk or public open access, so what was the point of the exercise?
Well, I strongly suspect that we will shortly see the erection of a large ‘For Sale’ sign on the front of the old police station in North Road, and that this will be followed by an official statement from police headquarters in Lewes stating that the move to the parish offices was done as part of its, I quote, ‘new, flexible, local policing approach introduced in late 2017’.
And before the readers of the Shoreham and Worthing Heralds and the Littlehampton Gazette start thinking ‘We’re all right, Jack”, things are not exactly brilliant in your necks of the wood.
According to the Sussex Police website Shoreham and Littlehampton are already only open for 20 per cent of the week – 10am to 6pm on weekdays (closed for lunch 2pm to 3pm) – and all day at weekends. Worthing is more fortunate, with the station there operating 40 per cent of the week – 9am to 8pm six days a week (and it doesn’t close for lunch), although it still shuts up shop on Sundays.
Use them whilst you can good folk of Shoreham, Littlehampton and Worthing, because yours, too, could go the same way as Lancing’s, all in the name of greater efficiency and cost effectiveness.
And by the way, again according to the Sussex Police website, it is embarking on a significant four-year investment programme which will strengthen how it enhances public contact services. How it will achieve that aim without walk-in, face-to-face access to its officers remains to be seen.
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