Introducing PC pod – Sussex Police’s latest initiative to tackle crime and disorder in Crawley.
The innovative structure, which is comparable in size to a modest garden shed, was officially unveiled in the High Street, Crawley on Monday morning (30 October).
Powered by solar energy and made using 1,312 recycled plastic bottles, it will be used by police officers and staff, as well as partners including Crawley Borough Council.
Working together, their aim is to increase engagement and community reassurance, and provide a safe space for people to talk about any concerns they may have.
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:
“The safety of our community is a priority for us, and this new hub 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 antisocial 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 Crawley a safe place to live, work, and visit.”
The temporary installation follows the success of the ‘beach hut’ in Brighton in 2019 and the launch of an identical pod in Eastbourne in August.
It will be manned by PCSOs, and officers from the local Neighbourhood Policing Team and Response Team as often as possible, particularly on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Chief Inspector Ben Starns, District Commander for Crawley and Mid Sussex, said: “The arrival of the pod is an exciting opportunity to share space with partners and be present right in the centre of town.
“Police officers and PCSOs, along with partners from local authority and other agencies, will be present in and around the pod to allow people to meet with officers, ask questions and understand the policing response to issues in the town centre.
“It is important to reiterate that the engagement hub is not replacing police stations; it is in addition to – and an enhancement of – our opportunities to engage with our community. We will always be available via online forms, 101, or 999 in an emergency, and at your local police station that will continue to operate as normal.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne added: “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 Crawley hub in place provides the opportunity to build better relationships and strengthen the public’s confidence in their local policing team.
“The 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 pod measures 254cm in length, 250cm in height and 185cm in width. Its panels are bonded for rigidity, impact resistance and water tightness, offering maximum durability and requiring no further maintenance, for example no further painting. It is powered by solar panels.
As well as providing a focal drop-in point for the community, it will also be used to hold sessions with partners including the local night safety marshals, youth workers, the business community and more.
Councillor Yasmin Khan, Cabinet member for Public Protection at Crawley Borough Council, said:
“It provides residents and visitors the opportunity to discuss their concerns with the police, as well as being a valuable tool in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in the town centre – along with our newly-installed CCTV cameras. The hub supports our desire to ensure that the area is safe for everyone.”
The engagement hub will remain on Crawley High Street for six months, when it will be removed for further evaluation into its effectiveness.
Inspector for Neighbourhood Policing in Crawley, Steve Turner