Police quizzed on Bexhill crime
HIGH ranking police officials faced a grilling at the Manor Barn - despite the indication that crime in Bexhill is on the way down.
The announcement on dramatic improvements in the Rother area over the last year, did not prevent residents asking some searching questions on anti - social behaviour and an alleged criminal element 'harassing' people in the town centre.
The wel-attended meeting was chaired by Police Authority committee member and County leader Peter Jones.
After a series of presentations, Rother Chief Inspector Rob Carden, Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Yeo and new Safer Rother Partnership coordinator Carol Studley, took part in a question and answer session.
Chief Inspector Carden was keen to point out the giant leaps made by Rother police in a year.
* Overall crime down 5.2 per cent
* Burglary (people's homes) down 41 per cent
* Vehicle crime down 32 per cent
* Robbery down 39 per cent
But violent crime in a public place had increased by 35 per cent in the past year.
Chief Inspector Carden said the offences were mostly at the 'lower end of the scale' such as common assault and the figures may have increased due to the recent changes to the National Crime Recording Standard, but he vowed to fight the problem.
He said: "Obviously I'm not proud of that increase and want to do something about it, because it's sticking out like a sore thumb against all the work we have done."
The Chief Inspector mentioned past operations, the Barwatch scheme, the use of Anti - Social Behaviour Orders, dispersal orders, targetting persistent offenders, truancy sweeps, youth liaison and working in partnerships with groups such as neighbourhood watch as methods of tackling the problem.
But the panel did struggle to appease a vocal number of residents who spoke out on crime and intimidation in the town centre.
"The problems are after around 6.30 and can carry on until three in the morning," said one man. "You're wrong to think they (the youths) are not doing anything because they're taking drugs every night. We should not kid ourselves that because they're only kicking off car mirrors they're not really doing anything."
"It's just incredible the problems there," added a female voice from the audience.
Although not sitting on the panel, Bexhill police commander Inspector Dick Coates, informed residents he would investigate the problems.
He said: "We are aware of a number of youths in the town centre area and we have been working with social services recently."
The Inspector said police will be bidding again for CCTV equipment to be installed nearby.
Concerned members of the public were told that Sidley, another recognised crime 'hotspot', will not be forgotten during the summer months and the neighbourhood policing team will continue to forge links in the village.
The meeting also addressed the issue of moving on travellers from private land. Cllr Jones suggested police powers were limited as "the situation is unless we can find sites for them to go to, the police generally have great difficulty moving them on."