Leading tech posts go as security work moves out of Horsham

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Forty posts at a Horsham site with a top secret history are to leave the district as the Ministry of Defence and Home Office integrate work which ‘makes a major contribution to the nation’s defence, policing, security and resilience’.

The posts at the Home Office’s Langhurst site in Langhurstwood Road are part of the Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST), made up of scientists and engineers who develop technological solutions to fight crime.

A spokesman for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) - an Executive Agency of the Ministry of Defence- at Porton Down, Salisbury, said this week: ‘’An integration has been agreed between the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Home Office’s Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST). This has been decided following a review to examine the best way to provide enduring and appropriate science and technology (S&T) support to the Home Office and the MoD. The integration will improve the resilience of the S&T support that makes such a major contribution to the nation’s defence, policing, security and resilience.’’

Dstl’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Lyle said: “Combining our capabilities will improve the science and technology support for the MoD and Home Office, and enhance the nation’s defence and security. Dstl and CAST already work closely together on key projects such as forensics, body armour and detection systems. We intend to continue to build on this existing close relationship to make the integration process a success.”

The Head of CAST, Andy Bell, added: “This development will enable a more joined-up, coherent approach to science and technology provision for security, policing and resilience in the UK. The move will mean that our customers have access to a wider range of scientific and engineering expertise across government, industry and academia, giving broader access to innovative ideas and solutions. There is a lot of hard work to be undertaken before we complete the move, and we will be providing full support to our staff throughout the transition.”

The integration is expected to start in 2017 and end by 2020. CAST’s staff and work will move to become part of Dstl, and be primarily based at Porton Down, near Salisbury. An integration programme team will work jointly across Dstl and CAST to support the transfer of staff and capabilities during the transition period, ensuring continuity in support of national security, defence and policy.

CAST confirmed that 40 staff at Horsham are affected by the announcement at the 26-acre Langhurst site and their roles will be transferred to Dstl.

The earliest reference to Langhurst is in the accounts of Rusper Priory in about 1532. The priory stood on the site later known as Rusper Nunnery.

In 1941, the government requisitioned the house and land known as Langhurst for use by the military. During the war years, Langhurst is known to have been used for training purposes by the Special Operations Executive.

The MoD vacated the site in around 1975. It was then used for a while by the Royal Observer Corps as a temporary regional headquarters while their own premises in Horsham were being refurbished.

It was also used from time to time by the Sussex Police for training their dogs, riot training and for exercises.

The Home Office took over the site in around 1980.

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