Littlehampton community wardens: Initiative is making a difference to the town

Four months into the job, the new Littlehampton community wardens are making a difference in the town and the job is evolving as the team gets to know he people in the area.

Senior community warden Mick Kendall has trained community wardens Jamie Riggs and J.J. Mootealoo in patrol strategies and they are all working hard to engage with people of all ages across the whole town.

Jamie said many people perceive that they cover just the town centre but they ensure they maintain a presence across the whole of Littlehampton.

The role is to engage with the community as an efficient eyes and ears service, aimed at reducing fear of crime and improving quality of life.

Senior community warden Mick Kendall, left, with community wardens Jamie Riggs and J.J. Mootealoo

Mick said: “A lot of what we do is intelligence led. We work closely with Arun District Council and the police, local agencies and Turning Tides.”

Jamie may be playing football with a group of young people one day and having a game of Scrabble with older folk at Age UK the next. It is all about getting to know people.

Jamie said: “It is absolutely the whole community. We are getting on first name terms with some. It is helping to disperse problems. We are firm but fair and at the end of the day, if we come across things that are challenging, we just deal with it.”

The trio wear distinctive purple tops, a colour that was carefully chosen to be unique and recognisable.

On patrol in Littlehampton, checking on the River Arun, where there have been issues with tombstoning

J.J. said: “Our roles really are about being on the frontline, being a visual deterrent, collating intelligence and talking to agencies about what we see, but we are also the friendly face of the council.”

The 18-month project is funded by Littlehampton Town Council and the Safer Arun Partnership, and working with Arun District Council, to help reduce nuisance behaviour.

Mick said: “The first four months have been about promotion, so people know who we are and what our role is. It is helping with public perception, because the shirts are visible.”

The team has a minor enforcement role, for example inconsiderate parking, but the trio has had to be clear about their boundaries. They are not a replacement for the police.

Spot checks are made on the public toilets in St Martins Car Park following an issue with used needles

They are, however, often the first on the scene, like a recent incident of a drug overdose in Caffyns Field, where J.J. and Jamie were alerted to a man in trouble and called an ambulance.

Another day, J.J. found a wallet on the ground in Wick, with cash and cards inside, and was able to track down the owner to return it.

The job is very much about talking to people and picking up on problems, like introducing spot checks on the public toilets in St Martins Car Park following an issue with used needles.

Mick said: “It’s a new initiative and a new role. A lot of what we are doing now was not considered, so it is evolving and adapting.

“We fill in the gap between law enforcement, local authority and community, and it is a gap that needed to be filled.

“It is about voluntary compliance, talking to people and encouraging them to do the right thing.”

The team reports issues to relevant authorities and liaises with police to reduce incidents of criminal damage and anti-social behaviour.

Going forward, J.J. will have a particular focus on arranging community events, like a litter picking morning and gatherings for older people who feel isolated.