Police tackle crime as they keep people safe during lockdown
With the announcement of 348 fines having been issued across the county for breaches of new public health regulations, Sussex Police confirms enforcement is the absolute last resort.
Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner said: “We empathise with the public and understand how difficult it is at this time. We will continue our policing approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging and only then as an absolute last resort we will enforce. We do not want to criminalise people who we know are under pressure unless we have to.
“It is important that our relationship with the public continues to be one of trust and confidence, and on my patrol in Brighton yesterday it was pleasing to hear people speak positively about how we are engaging with them to keep them safe. We are so grateful to the vast majority of the public who are supporting us by staying home.
“Our enforcement in relation to some crimes has, if anything, ramped up. We are seeing significant impacts in relation to drugs offences, county lines, violence and we are having a visible policing presence in rural areas in relation to thefts and burglaries. We also continue to police our roads effectively, identifying people who are drink and drug driving, speeding and driving in an anti-social way.
“We are seeing significant results in relation to these crimes and we continue that enforcement action 24/7 making sure we are locking up criminals and protecting the public. In many of the cases, people we have found to be committing offences have also been given tickets for breaching lockdown restrictions.”
Visitors making non-essential journeys from outside the county to Sussex’s coastal and rural beauty spots are among those receiving Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) since the measures were introduced five weeks ago. They are not welcome during the coronavirus lockdown.
Latest figures show 189 FPNs were issued in the past two weeks, of which 43 were on Sunday alone (April 26) as many people travelled to the county on day trips, including a number of families from London visiting Camber Sands and Winchelsea Beach for 'fresh air'.
The issuing of fines still remains the exception however, with the majority of people complying with the restrictions or responding positively to police engagement – fine accounts for just one in 4,896 of the population.
DCC Shiner said: "Our policing approach during the lockdown has not changed. We are still patrolling, we are still engaging with the public and we are still taking enforcement action when it is absolutely necessary to do so.
"We understand the frustrations of the public and we appreciate this is a very difficult time for everyone, but now is not the time to stop following the guidance, now is the time to stick with it.
"Last weekend we saw an increasing number of people travelling into Sussex from outside the county and it’s not on. There will be plenty of time for a day trip to Sussex but that time is not now.”
As well as thanking members of the public who are following the guidelines and staying home, Sussex Police is also highlighting the work of the Special Constabulary – its volunteer police officers who, alongside police officers and PCSOs, are working on the frontline.
Specials have contributed 410 shifts - a total of 3,411 hours - of their own spare time to support this national effort since the lockdown was put in place.
The force also has 61 student police officers currently undergoing a condensed nine-week training course, adapted for current conditions, who will be ready to deploy in June with dedicated coaches as part of the Government’s on-going programme to recruit additional police officers.
999 and 101 call rates for the past month remain lower than the same period last year, at around 25% and 14% less respectively, but online reports have tripled driven by the public reporting breaches of the current measures.
Encouraging the reporting of domestic abuse and ensuring any victims can receive help and support during this period remains a policing priority.
DCC Shiner added: "In the past two weeks, we have started to see an upwards trend in domestic violence crimes following a dip and we expect this to rise further when lockdown measures are eased or modified.
“We have adapted to ensure we can support people at risk and find them a safe space. We will always pursue offenders.”
Some of the specific measures in place include:
dedicated ‘domestic abuse’ cars across Sussex, responding to medium risk incidents. Emergency response officers will always respond quickly to high risk incidents.
a new specialist team able to deal with any non-urgent cases by appointment and this has included a new video appointment service where conversations can’t take place face to face.
the launch this week of domestic abuse awareness at local supermarkets, with high profile signage at entrances and take-away information, complementing an online campaign.
Thank you once again to the vast majority of Sussex residents who continue to observe the government’s restrictions and maintain socially distancing to ensure the cases of coronavirus do not suddenly escalate.
Together with all our colleagues responding to this unprecedented pandemic we are working hard to keep people safe and protect the most vulnerable to save lives. But we are not over this national health emergency yet and we ask the public to listen to government advice and only change behaviours as new guidance is provided.
"Now is certainly not the time to attend parties, travel to family and friends for birthday celebrations or make a long journey for a day trip to the beach,” said Chief Superintendent Jane Derrick.
"However this is just what some people did this weekend and they were issued with fines for flouting the travel and social distancing restrictions and potential putting people’s lives at risk.
"We know that it isn’t easy, especially when the sun is out but fine weather is no indicator of the restrictions lifting or indeed the spread of coronavirus slowing, there is still a way to go.
"Those, who explained they were bored and fancied a day at the beach, were issued fines at Birling Gap, Seven Sisters, Camber Sands and Brighton. They account for about half of the 45 fines issued in Sussex on Saturday.
"Also falling foul of the current restrictions that day were those who travelled to family or friends’ birthday parties; or joined friends in their cars for a day out.”
Seven fines have gone to parents in the last week, after their children, aged 15 to 17, were taken home after they had met up with their friends and refused to follow advice from our officers.
Chief Supt Derrick added: “Perhaps now more than ever, we need people to take personal responsibility to help slow the spread of this deadly disease. They need to take socially distance seriously, stay local and avoid places that are popular such as coasts, beauty spots or popular countryside walks to minimise the number of people they may meet.
"Our policing approach during the lockdown has not changed. We are still in communities patrolling, we are still talking to the public and explaining the guidance and legislation, but we will take enforcement action when it is absolutely necessary to do so.
“We are working 24/7 preventing and solving crime and the online demand in our Contact Centre has escalated, driven by the public reporting breaches of the current measures.
Two men who stormed into a bookmakers and declared “Merry Christmas, you’re getting robbed” have been jailed for a total of almost 15 years.
Around 6.20pm on Tuesday 17 December, two men entered Coral in The Street, Rustington, and demanded money from a single member of staff and assaulted her. They also claimed to be in possession of a gun.
The pair left the premises with a small quantity of cash but were arrested nearby shortly afterwards.
They were identified as Graham Baker, 44, unemployed, of Shadwells Road, Lancing, and Billy Betts, 28, a roofer, of Irene Avenue, Lancing.
Baker and Betts were subsequently charged with robbery and listed to appear before Lewes Crown Court on Friday 1 May.
Baker was sentenced to seven years and three months’ imprisonment; and Betts was sentenced to seven years and five months’ imprisonment.
Detective Constable Matt Watson said: “I’d like to commend the bravery of the victim and the numerous members of public who provided witness statements, which – together with overwhelming CCTV evidence – helped us bring these two violent offenders to justice.” https://www.sussex.police.uk/news/sussex/news/court-results/rustington-robbers-jailed-for-almost-15-years/
Alerts/Press Releases sent out this week click the link to see full details.
Other than Dwelling
Reference: 0273 29/04/2020
Location: Brighton Road, East Worthing
Date and time: Between 26th and 29th April
Details: A pedal cycle was stolen from an insecure garage.
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