What’s the victim’s birthday ?


A couple of weeks ago, Rye News asked “Do you know this man” in a story about a suspicious character spotted in Winchelsea by the local Neighbourhood Watch. He had been seen reconnoitring houses and was then caught in someone’s garden before fleeing. On Saturday night, a vigilant resident of Winchelsea saw the man and his van in the car park of the New Inn. They took the vehicle’s number and reported to Winchelsea Neighbourhood Watch. The Winchelsea Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator contacted the police . . . or at least he tried.

First stop was 101. The police call handler seemed unimpressed. He did not really seem to understand the story about the previous suspicious behaviour and suggested that the suspect may just have stopped for a drink. The call was then put through to local police but languished in queue.

Bombarded by loud music and suggestions to report crime online, the Winchelsea co-ordinator logged onto the Sussex Police website and clicked the link Report Online. This then offered a new menu on which one could report Personal Crime, Stalking and Harrassment, Theft and Burglary, Fraud and Scam, Anti-Social Behaviour, Criminal Damage, online child sex abuse and Something Else. But not suspicious behaviour.reporting a crime

The co-ordinator decided on Something Else. But this threw up the question, “Are you a victim of crime?” After answering “no”, the co-ordinator was asked, “Do you know the victim?” Rather than give up the co-ordinator decided to name the resident who first reported the suspicious incident. He was then asked the victim’s birthday!

At this point, the co-ordinator admitted defeat, gave up and went back to 101. This ended in the same queue of unanswered calls. Today, he sent an email to Sussex Police but is left wondering whether they have lost interest in suspicious behaviour.

Since this article was written a reply has been received from the Police, as follows:

Rother police say their 101 lines have been very busy. They commented that the online reporting system uses a national format (including the birthday date field) over which they have no control. But they suggested that, where clearly suspicious behaviour is seen or the return of a suspect, it would be appropriate to ring 999.


Report form: Sussex Police

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