‘I tend to avoid coming into town when I am not working’, that was the comment from a member of Morrison’s door security when asked about Bognor’s anti-social behaviour issues.
“We were making reports to police four to five times a week at its peak back in February and March,” Ryan Patterson told the county’s assistant chief constable Laurence Taylor and police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne.
The pair took a walking tour of the town’s centre on Monday to talk to retailers about the ongoing problems, many of which were raised at the lastest electors’ meeting.
Ryan, who has spent the last six years guarding at the supermarket and nearby stores, said it was ‘the worst I have seen it’, with incidents including lit newspaper being thrown from the multi-storey.
He added: “It has tailed off somewhat now but there have been occasions where I have taken the long route home and in the last month I don’t think I have finished a week of shifts without someone standing up to me.”
BID chairman, councillor and businessman Paul Wells said: “Things have started to turn but we aren’t out of the woods yet.
“The key thing for us is that Sussex Police has become a reactive force but it is about needing to turn that on its head and look at prevention.”
Laurence said: “The problem with anti-social behaviour is the police can’t do it alone. We are putting a lot of resources into it but it isn’t just about boots on the ground.”
Stating that it is ‘a tiny, tiny percent’ of young people who cause the issues, he said joined up working from authorities was vital for a constant, consistent, approach.
Katy said the ongoing work was showing results but that she was keen to ask if the retailers were seeing that.
Michelle Harmsworth, manager at Mountain Warehouse, said: “It is better but there is still a lot to be done, especially on the weekends. If there’s no police in the centre, they know.”
Jason Passingham, of Heygates Bookshop, said: “With the very young ones it is like a game, it is a case of what can we get away with?”
Laurence said: “There are some bits I will take away and see what we are doing and if there is more we can do.”
“We are listening,” Katy said. “We are taking it seriously,” added Laurence.
“The fact people have noticed the difference is good but we haven’t cracked it yet.”
The visit came just hours after a knife was found in the high street following a fight.
For more see this week’s Observer.