Outcry after ‘joke’ police investigation into metal detecting in Bognor park

PCSO Daryl Holter (inset) is looking into metal detecting in Hotham Park. Pictures: Kate Shemilt/Sussex Police
PCSO Daryl Holter (inset) is looking into metal detecting in Hotham Park. Pictures: Kate Shemilt/Sussex Police

A former county councillor has criticised police after officers appealed for public help over illicit metal detecting in Hotham Park.

Many people questioned why money spent on the investigation was not instead being use to crack down on shoplifting.

Police are keen to speak to this man in connection with metal detecting in Hotham Park. Picture: Sussex Police

Police are keen to speak to this man in connection with metal detecting in Hotham Park. Picture: Sussex Police

Officers released an image of the man following metal detecting at about 4pm on Friday, December 29.

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Former councillor Graham Jones said it was a ‘joke’ that police time is being spent on tracking the man.

He said: “It has been reported that many crimes have been downgraded by the police. About time they got on with the job we pay them to do, after all a copper’s salary is not bad these days.”

Jennifer Reeves said on our Facebook page: “Wow what a waste of police time. Sort out the shop lifters and bike thieves in Bognor first!”

Many were confused about metal detecting laws in general, with Sarah Clarke adding: “I never knew that metal detectorists are not allowed in certain places . Maybe clear signs should be placed so people know.”

Responding to the comments, heritage crime lead and PCSO Daryl Holter said: “I look after heritage crime across Sussex Police in a voluntary capacity.

“Illicit metal detecting is a problem because when people steal our past we lose our history and our story.

“When people remove items either as a trophy or to make money we lose a part of our story.”

PCSO Holter said he would never say illicit metal detecting is better or worse than shoplifting.

But he added: “Once these artifacts are either stolen, removed or damaged we can’t get them back.”