Sussex Police is opening the doors to a new engagement hub in Eastbourne.

The initiative to help provide a reassuring and increased police presence in our communities launched on Thursday (17 August) at the junction of Terminus Road and Cornfield Road, in an area of high footfall known locally as Bankers’ Corner.

The Police Pod will be used by Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), Neighbourhood Policing Teams, Response Teams and other partner agencies as a base for engagement with the public and to help deter crime and disorder by maintaining a high-visibility presence.

It is also a space for members of the community to readily access officers and partners for support and advice on crime prevention, personal safety, and community issues.

The partners involved include East Sussex County Council, Children Services, Outreach workers, and crime prevention partners.

The hub has been funded by Operation Safety, the force’s response to knife crime and serious violence, and will be regularly used by Op Safety officers, too. It will support the ongoing work and operation activity of the team.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Yates, the force lead for knife crime and serious violence, said: “Following the success of the beach hut installed in Brighton in 2019, we are looking forward to bringing a new and improved hub to Eastbourne.

“The safety of our community is of paramount importance to us, and the pod provides a highly visible presence in the busy town centre to deter criminal activity and engage with members of the public.

“It will build on the extensive work we already do to tackle anti-social and criminal behaviour in the area, which includes daily patrol activity and initiatives to address crime targeted at local businesses.

“We are pleased to be able to join with our partners in providing this extra support and reassurance to the local community, to keep Eastbourne a safe place to live, work, and visit.”

Chief Inspector Di Lewis, district commander for Eastbourne, said: “We are always keen to work closely with our partners, to bring new initiatives to our town and ways for our residents to reach us.

“It is important to reiterate that the engagement hub is not replacing police stations, it is enhancing our opportunities to engage with our community. We will always be available via online forms, 101, 999 in an emergency, and at your local police station that will continue to operate as normal.”

Luke Johnson, Your Eastbourne BID (business improvement district) operations manager, added: “We work very closely with Sussex Police on town centre security and wanted to find a way to improve the partnership working and provide a more visible police and security presence in the high street.

“Our ambassador teams will be able to use this alongside Sussex Police to improve patrols, be a visible, vocal point for people, and act as a friendly, drop-in point for those visiting Eastbourne.”

The hub is the most environmentally friendly of its type, made from 1,312 recycled plastic bottles. The panels are bonded for rigidity, impact resistance and water tightness, offering maximum durability in harsh and coastal locations and requiring no further maintenance, for example no further painting. It is powered by solar panels.

Following the opening of the Police Pod, it will be staffed on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. In the coming weeks and months, local teams will be available at the hub for meet and greet sessions and joint activity with the Business Improvement District, Neighbourhood First, Street Wardens, and Detached Youth Workers.

It will also be used to promote initiatives already in place to keep people safe during the night-time economy, including StreetSafe.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “Residents regularly tell me how much they value access to police support within their communities. We know that visible policing deters crime and having the new Eastbourne hub in place provides the opportunity to build better relationships and strengthen the public’s confidence in their local policing team.

“The energy-efficient hub will also support the on-going work Sussex Police do to tackle criminals, protect the vulnerable and keep the streets of Sussex safe.”

The Police Pod will remain in Eastbourne town centre until mid-February, when it will be removed for further evaluation into its effectiveness.