An inspector urged residents to report any and all crimes to police at a public meeting where issues such as anti-social behaviour affecting a seafront cafe were raised.
Inspector Allan Lowe from the police crime prevention team answered questions from an audience of residents, which included several teenagers, at Lancing Parish Hall last night (Thursday, January 11).
Owner Alex Hole told him anti-social behaviour around the Perch cafe in Beach Green was affecting his staff and becoming ‘a significant problem’.
“We have been suffering over the last six months and we are still not seeing it go away,” he said.
“My staff are saying they don’t want to work in the evening.”
As well as broken windows, he listed ‘swearing and yobbish behaviour’ as examples of ‘background level nuisance which occasionally flares into something more serious’.
Inspector Lowe said the area was part of a ‘hotspot’ that was patrolled by officers but said they could not be there 24/7.
He encouraged Mr Hole to report every incident to police and said: “In my professional view, we need to target the very small minority who are doing it.”
Inspector Lowe described Lancing as a ‘generally safe place’ but said: “The problems we do get tend to be a few individuals who cause a lot of problems for the community.”
He urged all residents to always report incidents to police online, by email or by calling 101.
“We want everyone to report to us matters that are affecting them,” he said.
“Even if it’s over and you think, what’s the point – get that information to us.
“We will record your crime. Recording a crime is really important to us.
“If more resources are going to come into an area, we need to know what’s going on.”
He acknowledged that the visibility of police officers has been often criticised since the number of Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) roles was reduced.
Councillor Geoff Patmore said: “From my point of view, I do miss PCSOs, I miss the direct neighbourhood contact.
“We used to liase with two excellent PSCOs. We knew if there was an issue, they would sort that out.
“Now, there’s a feeling of vulnerability.”
Inspector Lowe agreed that having local police officers was ‘probably the best model’ but said austerity and budget cuts had led to ‘slimmed down’ police teams.
“There’s been real challenges over the last few years,” said the Inspector, who has been in the police force for 27 years.
However, he said police officers still spent time in the community, pointing to the recently introduced street briefings his team held in the area.
“My team regularly go and have a walk around here,” he said.
“Not as much as when we had dedicated PCSOs, but we are around.
“We still see the importance locally of high visibility.
“It’s really important we still have that contact.
“People like to come and have a chat with us.”
Explaining the new model of policing, Inspector Lowe said: “The key thing is that we go where the problems are.
“If you don’t have a problem, you won’t see much of us.
“If you do, you will. That’s how it works.”
Gloria Eveleigh, chair of Lancing Parish Council which organised the event, thanked Inspector Lowe for an ‘interesting’ evening and for answering questions honestly.