LETTER: Policing: what do you think?

Last week, the Herald & Gazette posed this question to its readers, ‘What do you think of policing?’ Reading this letter might help some people come up with their answers.

In the course of last week we were given the following information, courtesy of the local press.

Giles York, the Sussex Chief Constable, told us that his force had arrested a man for riding his motorbike across parkland.

Bernie O’Reilly, the Deputy Chief Constable, revealed that work by police and partners had led to an aggressive and violent beggar receiving a Criminal Behaviour Order.

A two-page spread in the Herald & Gazette, paid for by the taxpayer, included the remark that joint partnership work had led to two teenagers receiving Criminal Behaviour Orders.

So, that’s three major crime waves nipped in the bud!

This is the same police force that told us, back in September, that seven minutes was not at all long to wait for a 111 non-emergency call to be answered. At the same time it said that, in response to a plague of anti-social behaviour in Peacehaven, it would deploy officers into the town for six hours on Friday and Saturday evenings. This may have given some reassurance to the residents but it also let all the local yobs know exactly when to keep out of the town and not get apprehended.

The same force that, in October, asked residents to sign up to an email service which would allow them to receive messages about when the police would be working in their area, but forgot that criminals would also be able to sign up and then give a wide berth to the policed areas.

Considering that the Chief Constable and his command team of four other officers earn, between them, getting on for £800,000 a year, my answer to the question, ‘What do you think of policing’ is: “Not a lot.”

And, before someone writes to the Herald, complaining that I am ‘anti-police’, I would like to add that my grandfather served in the Hastings Borough Police, my mother was born in the police house in Westfield, a close member of my family is based at Shoreham police station and both my wife and I served in the Sussex Special Constabulary.

Anti-police? No, anti-the way that, in my view, it is managed from its headquarters in Lewes. A Chief Constable talking about an arrested motorbike rider? His Deputy about a beggar? I would have thought that their time, and our money, should be spent on more important matters and that statements, like the ones I have mentioned, should be left to members of their 5,000-strong staff team.

The Herald, in its Comment column, offered two alternative methods of policing; a police service, there all the time to reassure the community and deter wrong-doing, or a police force responding to problems and wrong-doing when they occur.

Why can’t it be one that is there all the time to reassure and deter wrong-doing AND respond to problems and wrong doing?

Anything and everything that would help make the cities, towns and villages of our county more pleasant and safer places to live in.

Eric Waters

Ingleside Crescent