Chichester’s custody suite to be reopened temporarily

The custody suite in Chichester, which has not been used since November 2018, is due to reopen temporarily.

Chichester Custody Centre
Chichester Custody Centre

Sussex Police said it was so that improvements could take place at four of its other custody centres in the county.

A spokesman said: “From September through to spring/summer 2021 the force will be carrying out a programme of planned closures at four of its custody centres.

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“This is to facilitate the completion of essential improvement works to meet the HMICFRS recommendations from their November 2019 inspection report.

“The custody centres closing are Worthing, Eastbourne, Brighton and Crawley.

“We are temporarily re-opening Chichester during this planned programme of closures to ensure the force can continue to deliver it’s critical custody function and deliver a high standard of service to the community.”

The force has been approached for further details about when the planned closures will take place.

The custody suite in Chichester was made non-operational in November 2018 after it was found to have the lowest usage of the six custody centres across Sussex.

Sussex Police came under fire for the decision when, as part of a JPIMedia investigation into private finance initiative (PFI) schemes, it was revealed the force was paying millions each year towards its contract for several custody suites - including £11.6million in 2018/19.

In February of this year, before the pandemic hit, Katy Bourne, the police and crime commissioner for Sussex, said a business case for reopening Chichester’s custody suite was due to be considered in the spring.

She said: “The decision to make Chichester custody suite non-operational was one made by the Chief Constable following a review he conducted driven by the need to make best use of resources and improve overall efficiency of our custody centres.

“This was at a time when the number of detainees across Sussex had reduced by more than half.

“Now that we are increasing our force at rapid pace, with the largest recruitment drive in a decade, this decision is being kept under review and a business case for its reopening will be considered in the spring.”