Message from the District Commander Rother

Dear Community Partners,

Thank you to those of you who provided me with feedback on my recent messages, it is good to know that you found them useful.

It would be inconceivable for me to discuss my concerns regarding anti-social behaviour without first emphasising the fact that Rother is a safe place to live and that it is becoming even safer. Overall crime levels in Rother have fallen over the last twelve months; this contrasts sharply with the experiences of most other Districts across the Force. The reduction in target crime in Hastings and Rother Division has been recognised at a national level and the further evidence of the District''s reputation as a low crime area can be found in CDRP''s crime audit and the recently conducted community safety forum.

However, there are two types of crime that have increased over the last twelve months; violent crime and criminal damage. The majority of the increase in violent crime is made up of the relatively less serious offence of common assault. Although a significant proportion of this increase can be attributed to our rigorous compliance with stricter crime recording guidelines (National Crime Recording Standards), there is a lot more we can do to ensure that we prevent and detect more of this type of crime. The key to reducing the increase in common assaults and criminal damage is to ensure that we deal effectively with all anti-social behaviour. In light of this, tackling anti-social behaviour will be the focus of much of our work over the next few months.

It is important to note that we have already had successes in this area and I have listed some examples of this work below:-

Operation Aerosol - successful initiative aimed at targeting graffiti in Bexhill earlier this year resulted in eleven arrests for criminal damage and over forty detected crimes.

Operation Ginger - successful initiative aimed at reducing violent crime in Rye. Numerous arrests and high visibility policing including visits to licensed premises in support of the barwatch scheme.

Operation Quench - much the same as Operation Ginger but focused in the Bexhill area.

Barwatch - CDRP funded Barwatch Co-ordinator instrumental in setting up the successful Bexhill, Battle and Rye barwatch schemes.

Anti-Social Behaviour Orders - six current ASBOs in Rother District with four further ASBOs imminent. Bob Perry, the CDRP funded ASBO Officer has worked extremely hard to secure the two latest additions to our ASBO list and we are confident that his efforts will ensure that the quality of life in the Bexhill and Battle area increases significantly for many people.

Sidley NPT - I discussed the introduction of a dedicated Sidley Neighbourhood Policing Team in my last update. I am confident that a team of three police officers, two community support officers and two specials will make a considerable impact in Sidley.

Operation Enforcer - a police led project working with Rother District Council to remove abandoned, untaxed and unregistered vehicles from streets and car parks. The operation is due to start in December 2004.

Schools - we are now working closely with a number of schools to combat graffiti. Claverham High School in Battle has already achieved considerable success in tackling this problem.

Dispersal Order - we have utilised legislation under Section 30 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 for the second time in Bexhill to reassure residents in Sidley who have been subjected to intimidation from large groups of youths congregating in the area.

Local Action Teams (LATs) - there are currently seven LATs in existence across Rother District and they have all sought to tackle, amongst other things, anti-social behaviour.

Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) - we currently have eighteen PCSOs working in Rother District and we are due to have a further addition to our swelling ranks very soon. The potential of local PCSOs to make a positive contribution to local communities was aptly demonstrated several days ago by PCSOs Barbara Headley and Rachael Streeter. Barbara and Rachael took it upon themselves to speak with parents of a local youth about an emerging graffiti problem in Sidley. During their home visit they recognised a graffiti tag on a school exercise book. After challenging the owner of the book in front of his parents it became apparent that he was one of the offenders. The PCSOs contacted local officers and the youth was arrested for criminal damage. Further enquiries conducted by Barbara and Rachael with the support of local officers will ultimately lead to a further five arrests for criminal damage.

Pro-active Policing - one of the ways we have achieved an overall reduction in crime is by targetting prolific offenders and I can assure you that your local officers are some of the most dedicated and committed officers in Sussex Police. In support of this contention I refer to the use of legislation allowing police officers, in certain circumstances, to stop and search people who are believed to be engaging in criminal activity. In the last seven months police officers in Rother District were responsible for 10% of the total number of ''stops'' recorded in Sussex. In actual terms, your officers have used these powers on over 2200 occasions during this period. This eclipses the use of this power in every other area of the County.

The examples I have provided are intended to be a snapshot of some of the positive work that has taken place and will continue to take place in relation to anti-social behaviour. The challenge now is to continue to build on the principles of neighbourhood policing whilst at the same time focusing on operational performance.

I hope this has gone some way towards reassuring you that we are determined to make a difference and that we care about the things that concern you most.   Rob Carden  Rother District Commander