Town centre ‘abandoned’ by under-pressure police force

Katy Bourne
Katy Bourne

Sussex Police has declined to investigate certain crimes because it is ‘not in the public interest’ to pursue them, a trader claimed on Tuesday.

Paul Wells told Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne a poor service – including officers failing to respond to a 999 call – had left Bognor Regis town centre ‘abandoned’ by the stretched force.

The Liberal Democrat councillor, who co-owns Unique Promotions Printing and Embroidery, in London Road, said an email from police proved shoplifting he reported would not be investigated due to the low value of goods taken.

Mrs Bourne – and local officers – insisted low financial losses would not prevent further action.

Mr Wells said: “The town centres have been abandoned by local policing teams and that is the sad reality of where we are today and we need to get that back.

“You are doing the best with the resources you have got but you have got to get back to local policing because the criminals are having a heyday.”

The commissioner was invited to a special meeting of Arun District Council following councillors’ concerns over frontline policing.

Mr Wells said just hours earlier his 999 call, stating shoplifters were using a doorway to stockpile goods from ongoing thefts, had not resulted in police attending.

Arun and Chichester prevention team acting Inspector Danny West said officers could have been required elsewhere at the time of the call.

Insp West said the email did not echo his perception of how to deal with incidents.

He said: “We can’t spend time on things where we aren’t going to get anywhere.

“However, if you are reporting shoplifting, where we have got evidence and we can proceed with it my expectation is we will do that.”

The meeting also saw Littlehampton’s mayor claim residents had ‘lost confidence’ in the police. Click here for the full story.