Sussex Police are calling for community support to combat an increase in youth violence in Worthing.
Officers and partner agencies in the town are urging the community to work with them to address a recent increase in violence involving young people, according to a Sussex Police spokesman.
Superintendent Miles Ockwell said the vast majority of recent incidents are linked to ‘a small group of young people’ and all avenues are currently being pursued to target and disrupt them - with a number of arrests already made.
His comments follow the assault of a young boy at a bus stop in The Boulevard on Thursday October 10 at about 4.30pm.
The spokesman said: “The boy was approached by three youths, believed to be aged about 14 or 15, and two of them attacked him, punching him before assaulting him while on the ground.
“Two of the suspects were reported as white, one with tight curls and the other with straight blonde hair. The other was of mixed race with black wavy hair.”
Superintendent Ockwell added: “This latest unprovoked attack on a young student appears to be part of series of violent incidents on young people that police and partner agencies are actively working hard to disrupt.
“The incidents have largely seen young people targeted when they are alone, in parks and close to train stations.
“We advise young people to stay together, let their parents or carers know where they are and to talk to someone if they are worried.
“Importantly, we need the community’s support to help us stop this.
“We know some people are feeling intimidated by the small group who are behind the vast majority of these incidents but we need victims and witnesses to come forward.
“Our initial response to this particular incident was not in line with what should be expected and we have apologised to the victim and his parents for this.
“I can confirm that we are actively investigating the assault and following a number of lines of enquiry.
“People can report to the police or speak anonymously if they wish through Crimestoppers or if they are a witness or victim under 16 through Fearless.org, which is easy to access.
“A wide ranging investigation has been taking place for some months into attacks by that same group of core offenders.”
A number of youths have been arrested and cautioned for other offences and 11 charges resulted in criminal convictions for three of the boys for assault, criminal damage and public order, the spokesman said.
He added: “There are 11 other offences being considered by the CPS for a charging decision. These related to offenders, aged 12 and 13, mainly for assault.
“Further incidents of violence, including a stabbing last week, have led to a multi-agency response to target violence in that area.”
Next week, a letter on behalf of local secondary schools, the police and West Sussex County Council will be issued to parents and carers in the town, providing reassurance, advice and information, according to the spokesman.
Head teachers from a number of secondary schools, the district and county council met last week to put into place measures to address this issue and they will meet again next week to consider further measures that will help keep youngsters safe, he added.
Superintendent Ockwell said: “We are aware of the concerns locally and, through additional funding, are deploying more police officers to provide proactive high visibility patrols, especially at the end of the school day, and Outreach workers from the district council in parks and public spaces to listen to worries.
“Together we are looking to manage the high risk of offending and, working with children’s social care, to address safeguarding issues for those involved.”
To report incidents call 999 in an emergency or report online.
You can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers completely anonymously 24/7 on 0800 555 111 or you can use an anonymous online form at Crimestoppers or Fearless.org for young people.
Anyone with information about the assault on Thursday is asked to report to police online or by calling 101, quoting serial 1040 of 10/10.