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Bad behaviour on rise in troubled town where police officer numbers have fallen


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ANTISOCIAL behaviour is up more than 50 per cent year on year in a town where people say they are frightened to go out at night.

Latest available figures from Sussex Police, compiled by The Argus, reveal that in the first six months of 2017, 559 crimes were reported across Peacehaven

The figures are for the two police areas designated as East Peacehaven and West and North Peacehaven include 227 acts of antisocial behaviour (ASB).

In contrast, in January to June 2016, there were 478 crimes and 145 incidents of ASB reported.

That means reported crime is up 17 per cent and and antisocial behaviour has increased 57 per cent year on year.

Meanwhile, police numbers in the area have fallen although support officer numbers have increased.

Last week The Argus reported on Peacehaven residents who consider their town to be in the grip of a crime spree after a series of assaults and acts of vandalism in recent weeks.

They asked whether Sussex Police have forgotten about the town since the closure of the Peacehaven police station in September.

But district commander Emma Brice said the station’s formal closure in September made little operational difference and no officers had been based in that location for more than two years.

She assured locals they live in a “relatively low crime” area and should not feel scared.

She said police would be targeting patrols at “hot spots” and at times when the force’s intelligence suggests crime and antisocial behaviour has become a particular problem.

Police cannot say how many officers patrol Peacehaven since teams are organised into divisions and dispatched as needed around the county.

But there are 492 officers, and 67 PCSOs based in the East Sussex division of Sussex Police, as well as 90 special constables.

A year ago, the division had 530 officers and 55 PCSOs.

A spokesman said special constable numbers had risen but specific data was unavailable.

Matt Webb, of the Police Federation, said: “This is a significant problem.

“In some respects it’s worse because this is a low crime area – but it’s heading towards not being if the figures keep on rising like this.

“These figures show the concerns of the police federation are being realised – cuts have consequences.

He said that while senior officers have questioned the effectiveness of increased foot patrols, “people don’t commit crime in front of police officers”.


Peacehaven’s most senior officer said the force has “not forgotten” about the town.

Chief Inspector Emma Brice, district commander for Eastbourne, Lewes and Wealden said the force has been aware of problems with antisocial behaviour and steps were being taken to end it.

She said: “Residents shouldn’t be scared. Peacehaven is still a safe place with relatively low crime figures.”

It has been suggested a current crime spree was linked to the closure of the police station in September but CI Brice said: “There’s been no officers based permanently in the police station for two years.”

“I am aware that reported antisocial behaviour in Peacehaven increased in June, although overall reported crime has decreased when compared with last month or with June of last year.

“I want to assure the community that I am actively focusing my resources in the town with them working closely with the community, town council, Meridian Centre management and other partners to address any problems.

“Recently we have made a number of arrests and we will continue this targeted approach to address issues in the area.”

Source: The Argus