Youth on bicycle collides with pedestrian – then spits at victim

Crackdown: Inspector Jon Gross, Wealden district police commander
Crackdown: Inspector Jon Gross, Wealden district police commander

Police are continuing to use a range of measures to address incidents of anti-social behaviour and criminal damage being caused by youths in Uckfield.

It has become an issue of growing concern in the town, and officers are intent on tackling those responsible.

Various methods are being employed to identify ringleaders and to support the wider community in bringing a halt to tearaway activity.

Inspector Jon Gross, Wealden district police commander, said: “We’re well aware that a small group of youngsters, mainly in their early teens, have taken to causing trouble, especially during evenings and weekends.

“This is not acceptable and we have already introduced steps to bring home to both the perpetrators and their parents that disorderly and criminal behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Extra officers have been drafted into the area to provide additional patrols and to respond directly to known incidents.

On Friday evening (February 23) a youth riding a bicycle which collided with a passer-by in Bell Walk, Uckfield, responded to the 52-year-old victim complaining by spitting at him and later returning to push him so that he stumbled as he walked home.

Later the same evening a group of youths was gathered outside McDonald’s restaurant in Bell Lane, Uckfield, when a glass door was smashed. A 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage and bailed to appear at Hastings youth court on Monday, March 12.

Constables and police community support officers (PCSOs) have been enforcing dispersal orders which aim to exclude those receiving them from entering specified areas in the town over key periods or risk arrest. Nine such orders were issued on Friday (February 23).

Insp Gross said: “Dealing with young people presents its own difficulties, but we are determined to use every means at our disposal, both civil and criminal, to remedy the situation.

“Warning letters and follow-up visits by the prevention team are being used to make it clear that further, robust action will be taken against persistent offenders and their parents as appropriate.”

Insp Gross said police were working with other agencies, such as schools, children’s services, the Youth Offending Team and others to ensure a coherent and consistent approach.

He said: “I am aware of the frustration of Uckfield residents that this problem persists. I want to assure people that we are have been, and continue to commit our prevention team resources to tackling this issue. The best way for people to help is to report incidents to us immediately and in as much detail as possible so that our officers can respond accordingly.

“I am convinced that by working together and garnering prompt and accurate information, we can stop this problem.”

Anyone with information can report details online (https://sussex.police.uk/contact-us/report-online/) or by phoning 101, quoting Operation Asteroid. When a crime or anti-social behaviour is actually occurring, please dial 999.