SEAFORD: Councillors’ concern over police shake-up

CONCERNS how a major policing restructure will impact on Seaford have been raised.

Councillor Ian White said response officers were currently based in the town but in September this will change and teams will be based in five different hubs across East Sussex.

A report into the issue was discussed at a Seaford Town Council meeting where Seaford Sergeant Chris Veale and Inspector Kate Woolford were asked questions from councillors.

In September response officers will move to five hubs across the division based in Hastings, Battle, Eastbourne, Lewes and Uckfield.

There will also be implemented new Responsive Investigation Teams (RIT) based at Uckfield, Eastbourne and Hastings at the end of September.

The move effectively means response officers will continue to attend emergency and priority calls but will then hand over the investigation to the dedicated RIT allowing them to get back out on the streets more quickly.

Despite the report stating the quality of service the public receive won’t change and response times should not be affected, councillors aired concerns about policing in the town.

Cllr White said, “We all had quite a lot to say about it.

“There are genuine concerns we are going to be left without police cover and the question was asked why have three of the hubs been put into towns with a smaller population than Seaford.

“The concentration seems to be further to the east of the county, the coastal strip has none of the service of the Responsive Investigation Teams (RIT).

“We raised the matter of what sort of guarantee we would get that we would receive a similar amount of police cover and the inspector was quite clear that units will be allocated on the same basis as they are now but instead of being located in Seaford they will come from Lewes.

“They said there will be fewer numbers but they will continue to use the same officers for the same areas and they gave us reassurances that things won’t change in any major way, they are trying to make better use of their resources.

“We have to accept what the police are doing but we will be reviewing the policing situation at a full council meeting in January.”

Lewes District Commander, Chief Inspector, Natalie Moloney, said, “I see this as another huge benefit to Lewes District as at present the response officers have to not only respond to emergency calls but also investigate the crimes that happen.

“What this means is that the RIT officers will be able to concentrate on investigating the crime and not worry about answering the emergency calls. This has to provide a better service to victims and witnesses of crime.

“I am pleased that there will be officers within the RIT teams across East Sussex who will be able to efficiently deal with crimes on our district.

“It is important to note that these are not ‘office dwellers’, they are uniformed police officers who will go to victims and witnesses to investigate crimes and bring offenders to justice.

“This is an opportunity to provide a high quality crime investigation service to victims.

“It will reduce duplication and bureaucracy and the number of days it takes to investigate crime and will increase efficiency.”