OPENING hours at Seaford Police Station have been slashed by more than 60 per cent following plans to save millions of pounds across Sussex.
The changes have already come into force which means the front office in Church Street is now operating at 38 hours fewer than it was back in December.
During that month the Sussex Police Authority approved a plan which meant changes to the operating times of many of the police stations’ front offices across the county.
Seaford MP Norman Baker said, “Instinctively I would like police stations open as long as possible but when you dig into it there’s a question about whether a police officer is best deployed sitting at a desk not doing much or out on the street cutting crime.
“I’m in no doubt that the latter is the best option.”
He added that the cut in hours would not mean the town was unpoliced when the front office was shut.
The move means the station is now open from Monday to Friday, from 10am until 2pm, instead of its usual 10am until 8pm in the week and 10am until 6pm on Saturdays. The station is now closed on both Saturday and Sunday. This change has come into action in police stations across the Lewes district.
A spokesperson for Sussex Police said, “Research shows police station front offices are not being utilised all the hours that they are open.
“Rather than keeping things the same, we plan to make efficiencies and work more effectively across Sussex, in both rural and urban areas.
“A report on the review of police station front office opening hours in Sussex has gone to Sussex Police Authority for approval.”
Sussex Police has a target of saving £52 million by 2015 and changing the hours to front offices is one of the ways it is looking at achieving this.
People responding to a survey online about the proposals showed that while 67 per cent wanted face to face contact to report an assault or robbery, most people wanted to contact police on the phone or online to report property crime and antisocial behaviour, to find out what is going on in their neighbourhood, make an appointment to talk to the police or get an update on an existing crime.
The results were similar for some 764 people consulted face to face across Sussex.
The Sussex Police spokesperson added, “The reduction in opening hours is for the front offices only.
“Officers and staff will still be providing a 24-hour service operationally.
“In an emergency, or when the front office is closed, the public will always be able to contact us quickly either through 999 or the non emergency number, 0845 60 70 999.”
The Neighbourhood Policing Scrutiny Committee will meet tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss the changes and is recommended to support them.