Police chief is quizzed online by the public

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‘WE may see a rise in crime’, were the words of the Wealden District Police Commander, considering the effect of the nationwide economic crisis during an internet dialogue session with the public.

Chief Inspector Richard Coates made the comment during an internet ‘Sussex Police Sussex Policing Live’ session on April 17.

Residents submitted questions online for the Chief Inspector. ‘S.T.Y.’ asked in an email: “What do you feel are the most significant challenges facing policing today?”

Chief Inspector Coates responded: “With the rise in unemployment and the significant economic pressures, it is possible we may see a rise in crime. The challenge for me is to prevent crime rising and keep Wealden one of the safest places to live, work and visit.”

The Chief Inspector, answering another question, said police visibility could always be better in rural areas ‘but I think we have enough officers and PCSOs to provide visibility to our communities’.

‘Linda’ asked him what police were doing to combat speeding in small villages such as Alfriston and Berwick.

Chief Inspector Coates said a dedicated team looked at speeding across all villages, and added: “Where problems are identified, education and enforcement is undertaken.”

Crime in the region was low due to the dedication and commitment of officers, and help of the public, he added. So there was no need to redirect officers to other areas with higher crime rates.

Burglary was the number one priority in the district at the moment, as reported before by the Sussex Express, and police are ‘targeting a number of people and areas at present to reduce this crime type’, he said.

Police bureaucracy behind the scenes had been reduced in response to police ‘cuts’, said Chief Insp Coates, but he would ‘like to think that policing the public hasn’t changed’. Officers may be placed ‘elsewhere’ if Crowborough Police Station is not fit for purpose, he answered another resident.