Town ‘lost confidence’ in police, mayor claims

The mayor of Littlehampton, councillor Billy Blanchard-Cooper. Picture: Scott Ramsey SUS-170522-091302001
The mayor of Littlehampton, councillor Billy Blanchard-Cooper. Picture: Scott Ramsey SUS-170522-091302001

Residents have ‘lost confidence’ in Sussex Police, Littlehampton’s mayor has claimed.

Billy Blanchard-Cooper told Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne that the negative view of the force in the eyes of many residents would be difficult to overcome.

His comments came at a special meeting of Arun District Council last week, where Mrs Bourne was making her second public appearance in the town in four months to discuss concerns.

The mayor said: “You have spoken about public expectations. That is key.

“Sadly the common thing is people have lost their confidence in the police in the town. That is the continued message I get from everyone.

“How are you going to deliver changing people’s perceptions locally?”

Mrs Bourne had heard concerns from councillors across the district, including long waiting times for people calling 101, officers not attending a 999 call and traders’ complaints.

Her visit to Littlehampton Town Council in September focused on a perceived lack of police officers from residents angered by anti-social behaviour and vandalism.

Her meeting with councillors last Tuesday saw her answer numerous questions in detail – but she had a brief response to Mr Blanchard-Cooper’s comments.

“That is the challenge I have put to the Chief Constable,” she said.

The commissioner outlined how the force had made £88million savings since 2010, with cuts of £36.5million to be found by 2022.

She last week gained permission from the Police and Crime Panel to up its precept, with Band D households facing a £12 annual rise.

Mrs Bourne said she had told Chief Constable Giles York to ensure a ‘renewed focus on crimes that matter to local people,” from burglaries to antisocial behaviour.

But councillor Jacky Pendleton said: “How can you do this with no extra resources when you haven’t been achieving it over the recent past? I can’t see how you are going to do it.”

Mrs Bourne said the Chief Constable was drawing up a plan but noted officers were using technology to help them do a better job.

Click here to see the police’s response to the mayor’s comments.

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