Sixty years from the laying of its first foundation stone, Brighton Police Station in John Street continues to sit at the heart of the community.
The station officially opened in 1965 to serve what was then Brighton Borough Police, before the borough joined Eastbourne, Hastings, West Sussex and East Sussex to become Sussex Police.
John Street has welcomed generations of officers, staff and volunteers over the decades, through a time where much has changed in policing, Sussex and society as a whole.
In 2014, work began on renovations that led to the modern police station we see today.
Much may have moved on since the laying of the first stone 60 years ago, but the foundations remain the same – dedicated teams of police officers, staff and volunteers working at the heart of the community to catch criminals, protect vulnerable people and deliver an outstanding service for victims, witnesses and the wider public.
On Tuesday, 2 May, Chief Constable Jo Shiner joined Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne, Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw and a number of long-serving officers and staff members to mark the occasion.
Sergeant Sophie Morris has worked at John Street for 14 years and is a second generation officer, following in the footsteps of her dad Bill who retired as a Detective Inspector having served Brighton and Hove for 19 years.
The pair’s careers even overlapped for ten years and for Sergeant Morris, policing has always been central to her family.
“I have fond memories of coming into John Street as a child, being in the Criminal Investigation Department and the general buzz and excitement of John Street,” she said.
“Also whizzing up and down on the wheelie chairs with my sister!
“I was always keen to serve at Brighton when I joined. My main motivation for joining was to make a difference. It may sound cheesy but I do really care about people and I like doing a job with true purpose and meaning.
“I do think that the family link has enhanced my feelings of loyalty to Sussex Police – I have never known a life without it in the background one way or another.”
Heather Van Dyke has worked at John Street for 27 years and her role in the front office typifies the community focus of the station.
Heather said she has seen many changes in her time here, but that the building has remained a safe space for anyone in need, not just for victims of crime.
“The front office is fundamentally about caring for all that walk through the door, and that has never changed,” she said.
Detective Inspector Dee Wells and Inspector Mark Redbourn both started their 20-year careers at John Street and remain there to this day.
Inspector Redbourn said the way the station operates – with much greater collaboration with community partners – has been the biggest change.
“The station is unique in Sussex for enabling a multitude of skills and specialities to quickly deal with problems and maximise the service we provide,” he said.
“Its location is also crucial to the way that service is delivered. During my time here, the evolution has been unparalleled – the look and feel of the working environment whilst retaining its functionality.
“One of the most dramatic and obvious changes was to the front office which, for me, symbolises how we have prioritised the accessibility to Sussex Police by the people who need our service the most.”
Detective Inspector Wells started as a probationer at John Street and now leads the Community Investigations Team, targeting the offenders causing the highest harm to our communities, such as those involved in county lines drug dealing.
She said she was made to feel welcome at the station since her very first briefing, and has loved it ever since as ‘a flagship of community policing’.
Chief Constable Jo Shiner said: “John Street Police Station has served the people of Brighton and Hove, and wider Sussex, for almost 60 years and its importance as a pillar of the community cannot be overstated.
“We are fortunate to have such an impressive, modern building from which to operate, but it would be nothing without the commitment and outstanding work of all the officers, staff, volunteers and community partners who dedicate their time to protecting the public.
“I would like to thank them for everything they do.”
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said: “John Street is, without doubt, Sussex Police’s flagship station, serving one of the UK’s most vibrant city populations. It is a familiar sight to Brighton’s residents and to millions of people who have seen it in TV dramas and documentaries and it provides a city centre location for hundreds of committed police officers, staff, volunteers and partners.
“It is more important than ever that Sussex Police officers and staff have the appropriate facilities to work from as they provide reassurance and protection to residents across our county, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
“I know just how much a visible police presence is valued by local residents – this is why having a police station like John Street in the heart of the community is vital to maintain public trust and confidence in our police force for many years to come.”