Call for more details on Bognor’s crime figures

Tell us the facts about Eastern Europeans in Bognor Regis, a councillor has demanded.

Cllr Francis Oppler said people wanted to know the truth about the sizeable population of those from countries such as Poland and Latvia who had settled in the town.

The silence which enveloped the subject must be ended, he said at last Wednesday’s full meeting of Arun District Council.

Cllr Oppler (Lib Dem, Orchard) said it was important to put the police figure of 18 per cent of crimes committed by eastern Europeans into perspective.

“This 18 per cent, as far as I am aware, refers to the whole of the district and does not refer to just Bognor.

“I would like to find out the percentage of convictions within the town of Bognor and its surrounding area.

“I am getting a constantly growing number of people asking me about this.

“It’s concerning an awful lot of people. We must not shy away from discussing the issue,” she said.

“We must make sure we give the community the facts and figures we can so that, when people are commenting, they are doing it on the basis of facts and not fiction.”

He said residents also wanted to know the size of the eastern European community.

“We need to establish what we are dealing with and not go on rumours and hearsay,” he said.

Council chairman Ann Smee said Cllr Oppler would be given a written answer to his question.

Outside the meeting, he said the issue of Eastern Europeans was one of the top topics raised in a survey he had carried out in his ward as the county councillor for Bognor Regis East.

This was in spite of the fact it was not included among the questions.

One of the residents’ comments stated: ‘I think there is a serious issue regarding the culture clash between us and the Eastern Europeans but people are afraid to address it.

‘In this small seaside town, we think we are now the foreigners.’

Another said: ‘Reduce the influx of foreigners’.

Cllr Oppler said the matter was one which was being avoided by the authorities in public.

“There needs to be a public discussion about this matter, which is not taking place at the moment,” he said.

The survey was his latest snapshot of peoples’ views in his ward.