Anti-social behaviour in Bognor Regis has increased 'quite significantly' according to a Police Community Support Officer.
PCSO Kate Harsley attended a full council meeting last night (Monday 7) to provide a report on local policing to councillors and outline what is being done to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in the town.
Councillor Jan Cosgrove (Lab) pointed out that three houses had been closed in a week after being linked to drugs and and anti-social behaviour. Councillor Cosgrove asked: "Is this a new trend? I can speak very directly of the situation that I know of. I'm not going to go into it but police are aware of it — a very serious situation indeed where I'm pretty convinced that young people probably about 15 or 16 are being drawn in.
"Is there a new tool that we can actually see used? Not just about cannabis, we are talking about crack cocaine basically and it's a very serious matter."
Officer Harsley said: ", it's not a new trend I think one of the first closure orders happened quite some time ago. There is three recently but I can't comment on every individual case but I know we work very closely with Arun District Council housing teams that collate a lot of information and evidence in order to do that.
"I've got some basic figures which I've highlighted for Hotham ward and Marine ward. With the Antisocial behaviour, unfortunately it has increased quite significantly since last year which I suppose in a way it's a positive thing that people are reporting correctly.
"There has been a case in previous incidents where people are waiting days to see police and then reporting it so because they are getting on the phone now and reporting it straight away we are able to do something about it."
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Councillor Stephen Reynolds said: "And what are you doing about it?"
PCSO Harsely: "With regards to the anti-social behaviour it's a multi-agency approach with Arun District Council Social Services and Police and the foot patrols in the town have increased we've had some days of action and operations like operation carbuncle which is a youth operation to target that in Bognor and Littlehampton.
It's collating information, reassuring members of the public we are taking a robust approach and dealing with offences accordingly."
Sandra Daniells: "I run quite a big social media group in Bognor and you'll be aware of all the problems we've had with a particular group of children over the Christmas period and I think people are getting very frustrated because they all know who these children are and they know whats happening.
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"They've all seen them, they've got photographs, they've got CCTV but there's a whole perception that absolutely nothing is being done about and we've got a problem bubbling up where there's vigilante behaviour beginning to appear.
"They're all told to keep reporting but they're all getting increasingly frustrated. You know, are you actually aware of the huge scale of the problem and peoples frustrations in the town? They are being terrorised by a group of kids."
Officer Harsley: We are fully aware. But we can't comment on individual cases. The social media campaign over Christmas did escalate as we all know.
"We are fully aware and there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes with different agencies. Unfortunately it is quite a lengthy process to collate that information. What I urge people do is not report it on social media and talk amongst each other."
Councillor Jim Brooks, (Indy) said he welcomed the higher number of foot patrols but said: "For the last three or four years now we've been told that it's higher reporting that is raising the figures and we are beginning to doubt that a little."