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22 October 2010, 10:58 | Updated: 22 October 2010, 11:04
People across Sussex are being asked to get involved to help shape the future of local policing. This is the statement from the Force
Sussex Police faces a tough challenge over the next five years, with the need to make an estimated £52 million of savings while continuing to protect services to the public. Today marks the start of a consultation to seek local people's views on the future policing of Sussex.
Yesterday's Comprehensive Spending Review indicates that the level of savings needed is broadly in line with Sussex Police's estimates but the exact details of the impact are yet to be communicated to local forces by the Home Office.
Sussex Police's programme of work to reshape the force - Serving Sussex 2015 - is already well underway and will be discussed at the next meeting of the Sussex Police Authority next Thursday (28 October). An update on the plans has today been published online by the Sussex Police Authority.
Over the coming months there will be a range of opportunities for local people to have their say. People are being asked to sign up on the Sussex Police website if they want to take part. They are also being asked about how they would like to contact the police and what sort of things they would like to be able to do online.
Chief Constable Martin Richards said: "We know that we are facing tough times but we are determined to protect the services we provide to the public. We have to be prepared to think differently about how we police Sussex and it is vitally important that we get the public's views on any changes. We will continue to put the public's needs at the heart of policing in Sussex."
"Throughout the Serving Sussex 2015 programme we will be focusing our consultation on what matters most to local people. One of the most important things - and the first subject on which we are seeking views - is about how people can contact us. I am keen to get direct feedback from the community and this will be vital to our decision making."
Sussex Police wants to enable people to do more things online and has already launched online reporting of certain crimes. However, the Force recognises the importance of continuing to provide ways to make contact over the phone and in person.
The first stage of consultation asks local people for the sorts of things they would like to do online - for example reporting minor crime, suspicious behaviour and lost property, accessing information about local crime levels and making appointments with officers - as well as what they wouldn't want to use the internet for.
A review of police stations is also underway. Sussex Police has pledged to return policing to the heart of local communities, but at the same time save costs, perhaps by closing larger, less accessible locations and providing new ways for the public to contact local police.
The consultation asks if there are other ways people would like to contact local police face-to-face. Ideas under consideration include drop-in sessions in libraries or shopping centres, a joint counter with other public agencies or even local businesses, or using the internet to make appointments to meet directly with local officers.
Commenting on these proposals, Chief Constable Martin Richards added: "Many of our police stations are expensive to run and in inconvenient locations for the public. We have to be prepared to think differently in these tough times. If we save money on inefficient buildings or those in inconvenient places, we will have fewer savings to find in other areas.
"So we may find different ways for the public to get in touch with us, for example by having regular drop-in sessions at community facilities, making more use of appointments or putting police contact points in local council buildings or even a local business.
"If we do decide to close a building that currently has a front office facility, then we will not do so without making sure that the local community has something else in its place that is as good as or better than that provided by the police station.
"People should also not assume that this means smaller locations will lose out. We know how important it is for the community to have a police presence in their neighbourhoods, particularly in rural areas. One of the considerations is to reduce the number of our most expensive, larger sites so we can protect or improve local contact. This may mean combining larger out-of-town locations for some policing functions, while providing a greater number of smaller, more accessible locations for local policing."
People who want to provide feedback on these initial areas - or who would like to register to get involved in future consultation - can do so right now by clicking this link: Surveys asking the same questions will also be distributed by neighbourhood policing teams and events will be held in local areas by officers and Sussex Police Authority members.
Commenting on the consultation and the wider Serving Sussex 2015 programme, Sussex Police Authority Chairman Dr Laurie Bush said: "The Police Authority provides a vital role in scrutinising the work of Sussex Police and at no time is this more important than during the consideration of these significant changes that will shape local policing for years to come.
"We strongly welcome the Force launching wider consultation around the proposals. Members of the Authority already seek and represent the views of local people and look forward to opportunities to take part in the consultation events.
"I am confident that the Serving Sussex 2015 plans are progressing as expected and anticipate interesting debate around the considerations at next week's meeting."