LETTER: Disbelief over reduction in police services

Reference report of the official re-opening of the policing base, Hammonds Drive, Hampden Park (Eastbourne Gazette 14/10). With a continuing interest in Eastbourne having lived and worked there for many years, I read the report with disbelief and amazement noting a further reduction in the services by the Sussex Police to the residents and visitors, totalling some 100,000 people.

The “Open all Hours” enquiry office in the police station in Grove Road is now closed. It provided the opportunity for the public to report any mater to the police, required by law that they do so, and to also obtain help for a variety of reasons, not always a police responsibility.

That service is now only available 9am until 5pm daily (the normal working hours for many people) at the customer contact point in the Borough Council offices, 1 Grove Road, or by a previously arranged appointment at the not easily accessible policing base at Hammonds Drive, Hampden Park. Otherwise it is by telephone only. This change follows the alteration in policing the streets of the town.

Over the years enforcement of the law, a 24 hour a day responsibility, a help to the public was through the daily, visible presence of the uniformed “Bobby on the Beat.” During my visits to Eastbourne I have not seen a uniformed police officer in the streets for a very long time.

Enforcement of the law, one of the major responsibilities of a police force, seems confined to (a) infrequent foot patrols by Police Community Support Officers who as the name implies, provide a lesser service than a police officer (b) a “crackdown” in relation to a particular offence which the public have been allowed to ignore for a long time and as reported in the Eastbourne Gazette 14/10 (not a good public relations exercise) or by the short presence of a passing marked police car.

According to official information available to the public there are now over 50 per cent more police officers in Sussex than in the days of the five separate police forces to which must be added, the number of uniformed Police Community Support Officers.

Eastbourne is a busy seaside resort, alive 24 hours a day with an ever increasing population. Is the service provided locally by the Sussex Police common throughout the county, or is the borough considered to be the backwaters of the county and only needing minimal policing? Does the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner and Eastbourne local Member of Parliament consider the town is being policed in an efficient and effective way?

F Thomas,

Montague Way, Westham