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Police chief makes pledge to step up community policing

Released: Tuesday, 19 February 2019

An extra 200 police officers will be back on the streets of Sussex within four years, members of Adur & Worthing Councils' scrutiny committee have been told.

Police chief Katy Bourne said a recruitment drive was underway to strengthen community policing following a public consultation to understand the views of residents across the county.

The Force already plans to recruit 800 officers by 2022. 600 of these are needed to replace officers who leave or retire, and 200 will be additional officers.

The Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Sussex was invited to a recent meeting of Adur & Worthing Councils' Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Councillors were able to question her on her work in holding Sussex Police to account and setting its budget, direction and priorities.

She was quizzed on her commitment to step up community policing, the number of arrests for drug-related crime, protecting young people and much-needed improvements to the 101 telephone service.

Mrs Bourne was joined by the Adur and Worthing District Police Commander, Chief Inspector Miles Ockwell. Together they also responded to questions from the public on topics including the visibility of police officers, local neighbourhood watch groups and anti-social driving.

Members highlighted a number of concerns from Adur and Worthing residents, including issues around drug dealing and the exploitation of vulnerable people, which the PCC recognised was a significant problem.

She informed councillors that the force would be focusing on ensuring that Adur and Worthing was a hostile environment for dealing, but was heartened by the recent reduction in associated serious violence.

Councillors also tackled the PCC on the role of Youth Prevention Officers and the work being undertaken across Adur and Worthing to protect young people in schools and alternative provision colleges from online crime and the risks posed through social media.

This comes after the recent news that £890,000 will be awarded from the Home Office Early Intervention Fund to help vulnerable young people across Sussex, by working with under 18s at risk of committing serious violence and those who have come to the attention of the police through anti-social behaviour and low-level crime.

Councillors pressed Mrs Bourne for answers on how she would be challenging Central Government to ensure fairer funding for police services in West Sussex. She said that the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) is committed to lobbying for increased funding.

Other topics in the debate included how the police force is responding the changing demographic of Adur and Worthing, the changing nature of risk, and the role of new technologies in enabling officers to access central police systems and information in real-time.

Cllr Keith Bickers, who chaired the meeting, said:

“We were pleased to invite the Police & Crime Commissioner to the Councils to help ensure ensure that the views of our residents are heard and that local needs and priorities are met by the force. We will continue to work with the PCC to raise awareness of the changing nature of crime, the importance of reporting tools for our residents, and to work together to reduce and prevent crime.”

Photo: Katy Bourne at the recent Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee (seated at right of photo with her back to the camera) - Keith Bickers is sat in front of the screen speaking (wearing the yellow tie)

Katy Bourne at the recent Joint Overview & Scrutiny Committee (seated at right of photo with back to the camera)

(PR19-033)

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