Are police needed in ‘low crime’ Wealden?

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ARE so many police officers and staff needed in Wealden District where crime rates are so low, critics ask?

They contribute to the highest amount of public money paid for a borough/district than anywhere else in East and West Sussex, except Brighton and Hove.

Police media crime reports for the district in recent weeks have followed the lines of ‘nothing of real note for Wealden’.

Figures released by the Sussex Police Authority show the total tax base and levy 2012-2013 for Wealden is £63,551.70 which is the highest for a district/borough in both East and West Sussex, not counting Brighton and Hove.

This relates to the amounts calculated by the billing authorities for which the Police Authority issues precepts totalling £631,840.91 (Band D).

Wealden is required to make payments totalling £8,796,826.31 under precepts calculated in proportion to council tax band D equivalents which is the highest in East and West Sussex, again not counting Brighton and Hove.

A taxpayer consultation organised by the Sussex Police Authority showed the highest ranked priority was ‘reducing overall crime’.

Yet crime in Wealden is low, according to Chief Inspector Richard Coates, who added: “But we suffer crime.”

Responding to a query by the Sussex Express, He said: “There is crime that happens that we do not routinely tell you about as its probably of little interest. Like drive offs from petrol stations, domestic incidents that are private.

“You are right in that we do not suffer high impact crimes but we do not just deal with crime.

“Anti social behaviour takes a lot of time of officers as does road safety issues. You will see from the papers that road safety is a key priority for a lot of Wealden residents.”

There are more officers in the urban areas which is right but the allocation of officers is done on area and population, said the Chief Inspector.

He added: “Wealden is a vast area and we have the correct number of officers and PCSOs to deal with the crime that happens. If we need more officers then I am able to draft them in from other areas of Sussex.

“Crime is low in Wealden as the officers are deployed correctly and in the right places. If we saw a decline of staff, crime may rise and that is not good for Wealden.

“Having a visible presence keeps crime low and the public satisfied.”

There has been a 4.7 per cent reduction in crime this year on top of yearly reductions in the last few years. June also saw the lowest number of burglary dwellings across East Sussex for five years.

Chief Insp Coates added: “We cannot get complacent though we need to keep pushing and keeping the pressure on.

“Our bait operations and intelligence patrolling will be part of that. Wealden is a safe place to live, visit and work. I aim to keep it that way.”

What do you think? Tell us your views. Email: sussex.express@sussexnewspapers.co.uk or write to: Contents Editor, Sussex Express, Temple House, 25-26 High Street, Lewes, BN7 2LU.

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