“I note that a large proportion of the increase in crime in Rye revolves around antisocial behaviour, violence and sexual crime, drugs, public order offences and shoplifting.
“I am aware that Sussex Police has recently launched their Tactical Enforcement Unit to target serious violence, county lines and organised crime. The Unit will support local policing teams and has been made possible by the increase in police officers (from the recent increase in police precept). We are also due around 129 additional officers from the Government’s recruitment programme for our police.
“I will be meeting with Katy Bourne, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex, to discuss policing and issues in our local communities within the next few weeks.
“From my own perspective, I do not believe that the police can prevent and solve criminal behaviour alone. Individuals, communities, public bodies, GPs, social workers, hospitals, schools, businesses and so on can all play our part. The Neighbourhood Watch, for example, is a great example of a community initiative helping our local police tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. It builds relations between communities and police and helps foster community spirit. However, I believe more focus is needed on community support and engagement and perhaps more focus given to it by local stakeholders, as results are varied when it comes to actual crime prevention.
“Early intervention by the police working with partner agencies to prevent crime is key. There are partnerships in East Sussex, for example, East Sussex Safer Communities Partnership. These partnerships work together to develop and implement crime and disorder strategies, but they also depend on engagement by individuals and communities reporting crime and anti-social behaviour.
“Anti-social behaviour (ASB) is something that Rother District Council can help with as residents can report ASB to Rother via an online form on its website. Public Spaces Protection Orders can also be used, for example to prevent street drinking in a particular location.
“Sussex Police are working to improve their engagement with local communities and I will actively support them in this in whatever way I can. This includes engaging more with children and young people in our schools and colleges.
“One of my priorities will be to focus on early intervention and prevention measures with children, young people and families, especially with those which are vulnerable or at risk. Improving the quality and breadth of education locally is also key in helping to reduce crime and I will be fighting for increased investment in education in Hastings & Rye. Mentoring young people may be an avenue which I would like to explore.
“I will be lobbying for zero tolerance on drug misuse locally (and nationally) with tougher sentences for drug supply and possession. A Royal Commission is due to be set up to review the criminal justice system, focussing on new sentencing laws for e.g serious violent offenders. We need strong deterrents, but we must improve rehabilitation; we have to defend our rule of law and create an environment where our values are respected.
“I hope this gives you a flavour of my priorities and the sort of initiatives I will be looking at.”
Rye News received an additional response from Inspector John Hartley, who said:
“Principal increases we see in the figures recorded for November 2019 were largely in antisocial behaviour, shoplifting and in drugs. In relation to the former, the majority related to issues over an individual which has now been successfully addressed working with partner agencies. The shoplifting figures related to a short-term issue at one location. The drugs figures reflect our recent proactive activity including the execution of warrants we have carried out in the area, detecting suspected drugs offenders in response to local concerns.
“People living and working in Rye can be reassured that while it is a generally low crime area, we nonetheless continue to work with the community and local groups to prevent and detect crime locally.