Police propose to close custody centre in Chichester

Custody Centre
Custody Centre

Sussex Police has proposed to close its custody centre in Chichester in November.

A police spokesman said the Chichester custody centre has the lowest usage of the force’s six custody centres across Sussex.

It has been decided that it would be of operational benefit to maximise the use of Worthing’s custody centre instead, according to the spokesman.

“The decision to close Chichester custody centre has not been taken lightly,” the spokesman said.

“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.”

Meanwhile, Sussex Police has decided to reopen its custody centre in Hastings, which has been closed since October, once essential work has been completed to make the centre safe.

Sussex Police’s custody estate comprises six centres based at Worthing, Crawley, Chichester, Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings.

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, the spokesman said.

Police said 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.

The custody estate was last reviewed in 2002 and there have been ongoing discussions to help keep pace with significant changing demands on the service, the spokesman said.

Chief Constable Giles York said: “It is vital 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.”

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.”