Hastings faces major shake-up of its police

POLICING in Hastings is set for a major shake-up as the force struggles to make savings of £52million by 2015.

A complete restructuring of the county’s force, including changes to front line response staff, secondary investigations, and CID teams comes into effect from the end of September.

Officers pooled in fewer locations will tackle crime in much larger beats.

Acting Hastings District Commander, Chief Inspector Laurence Taylor, promised the changes would improve policing in Hastings, and local Neighbourhood Policing Teams would remain unchanged.

He said: “Hastings District will still have officers based at Hastings Police Station to respond to emergency calls.

“While remaining mobile and visibly patrolling across the district as they do now, their capacity will be increased as some of their current responsibilities will be removed.”

The re-shuffle splits officers into teams dealing either with emergency response or secondary investigation.

Where previously officers were based at most police stations, from September, the new teams will be grouped into five hubs stationed across East Sussex.

One of these hubs will be in Hastings. Neighbouring Bexhill, which will not have a hub, must rely on officers from Hastings and Battle.

A police spokesman was unable to describe exactly how much ground officers based in Hastings would have to cover, or the level of staff changes involved, saying the detail would be released nearer the time.

As well as the emergency response teams, and the secondary Response Investigation Teams (RITs), the force’s CID will also be grouped into hubs. Hastings will again retain a CID hub, which will be expected to work a wider patch.

But PS Che Donald, the Hastings representative of the Police Federation, said he did not expect day-to-day policing to change.

“The biggest thing for officers is getting their choices,” he said. “They were asked where they want to go - a RIT team, or a response team. But our everyday policing shouldn’t change too much.”

Godfrey Daniel, councillor member of the Sussex Police Authority, said he was ‘reasonably relaxed’ about the impact the changes would have on Hastings crime.

“I think we will have to see if it makes sense.” he said.

“Any kind of reorganisation tends to destabilise for a while, and that would worry me, if there’s a drop in performance.

“There’s savings in it, and maybe we wouldn’t do it otherwise.”

Faced with a 16 per cent cut in funding last September, Sussex Police are scrabbling to recoup £52million by 2015.

In May, the Bohemia Road station shut its front desk on Sundays and Bank Holidays, and started opening at 9am rather than 8am Monday to Saturday in a bid to save more cash.

• Sussex Police say Hastings District Commander Mark Ling remains suspended while an internal investigation is ongoing into allegations he sent an offensive text message. He was suspended early last month.