Criminals planning to take advantage of the current lockdown to commit offences in rural areas are finding that their activities are more likely to come to the attention of countryside communities.
Three men were arrested near High Hurstwood in the Wealden district recently when police were alerted to a suspicious car in the area. The men were found crawling along a hedgerow and after running off from officers were arrested on suspicion of burglary and going equipped for burglary.
Detective Chief Inspector Alasdair Henry, Wealden district policing commander and Sussex Police's lead on business burglary, said: "This incident demonstrates that by working together, increasing vigilance and awareness, we can make a difference and we do act positively on any intelligence we receive. If you see anyone or anything suspicious in your area, please report it to us.
"Rural PCSOs are continuing their proactive work, liaising with farmers and countryside businesses, offering rural crime prevention advice and offering property marking, including delivering property marking tools along with instructions on how to use them.
"We have also increased our high-visibility patrols around rural beauty spots and areas popular with people taking their lockdown exercise as these can also be attractive to opportunistic thieves.
"Additionally, we are liaising with partners including the National Farmers' Union and the Country Land and Business Association in association with the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, to consult with farmers to ensure that they are being supported by police and to give them the opportunity to inform us of what is going on locally to them."
Recruitment continues and more rural officers will be taking up their roles over the next few months as part of the overall precept investment plan. Read more here.
Sussex Police maintain focus on domestic abuse
Sussex Police have introduced new initiatives to encourage the reporting of domestic abuse and support victims, an issue which remains a priority for the force at this crucial time.
A new specialist unit, the Local Resolution Team, can deal by appointment with any cases that are not immediately urgent, including a new video appointment service when conversations can’t take place face to face.
The 30-strong team of specially trained officers are dedicated to dealing with reports of domestic abuse which are not immediately urgent. They discuss the incident with the caller, carry out an initial investigation and provide safeguarding advice, to leave the victim feeling safer than before and to explore available investigative opportunities to prosecute those responsible for domestic abuse.
Detective Superintendent Steve Rayland of the force's Public Protection Command said; "Our preference is to see someone face to face in private at a police station. However, we recognise that current restrictions such as vulnerable categories, self-isolation, or travel, will not be able to attend so the force has new video conferencing technology.
"The officers obtain a safe contact number and send a one time text message to the caller's smartphone. Activating this link puts the caller in to a virtual waiting room where one of our officers will be able to see and talk to them so that an investigation can take place."
Part of the safeguarding advice includes referrals to independent support agencies such as Rise and Worth Services.
Afterwards, the caller is told to delete the text, which is disguised in the first place to hide any links with the police. Read more here.
We still need to save lives
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.” Read more here.
Increase in assaults on Sussex police officers during Covid-19 pandemic
Sussex’s Deputy Chief Constable has described an increase in assaults on police officers and other emergency workers during the coronavirus pandemic as ‘sickening’.
The comments from Jo Shiner come as news that Sussex Police has recorded a 39% increase against officers. PCSOs and other emergency workers in April compared to the same period last year – with an increasing number linked to Covid-19.
In all, 169 offences were recorded against frontline officers and staff* in the first four weeks of the lock down. These included officers being punched, kicked, bitten, spat and coughed on and threats to infect the officers and their families.
Last weekend, eight police officers and a PCSO across Sussex reported assaults including:
A man from Brighton who said he had Covid-19 and coughed in the officers face when he was arrested for possession of cocaine.
An officer who was bitten on the finger by a man fined for being out under Covid-19 legislation in Littlehampton.
In two other incidents in Brighton officers were kicked, grabbed, spat at and racially abused.
Read more here.
Police warn of sextortion and webcam blackmail
Police are warning of sextortion and the dangers associated with interacting with someone you don’t know online after a vulnerable man in East Sussex was blackmailed via social media.
Sextortion is a form of blackmail where a perpetrator threatens to reveal intimate images of the victim online unless they give in to their demands. These demands are typically for money or further images.
Criminals might befriend victims online by using a fake identity and then persuade them to perform sexual acts in front of their webcam. Criminals will then threaten to share the images with the victim's friends and family.This can make victims feel embarrassed and ashamed, and prevent them from coming forward to report the incident.
On Tuesday, 21 April, police received report that a vulnerable man in his twenties in the Eastbourne area was contacted by a stranger on social media and they began talking.
The victim was asked to show intimate parts of his body on webcam during a video call, which he did when asked. He was then threatened and told that the video would be shared with his friends and family if he did not pay €75,000 (£65,550).
Thankfully the victim did not pay any money and contacted police. The matter is being investigated and the victim has been provided with support and fraud prevention advice. Read more here.
Help us keep Sussex safe
If you saw or heard anything, or have any information about any incident in this message please contact us online, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 101, quoting the reference number provided.
Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111, or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org
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Anna Habdas (Police, Prevention Support and Engagement Officer, Sussex)