Changes to the local policing model and the role of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) were discussed as part of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s monthly meeting with the Chief Constable of Sussex Police yesterday (Friday 16th).
Katy Bourne spoke about the strength of feeling in Crowborough following her meeting in March and the vote of no confidence at the Town Conference a couple of week’s ago.
Anxiety about the new Neighbourhood Policing Model was triggered when the residents found-out PCSOs would no longer be stationed in Crowborough, and the Town Council were being prevented for paying for a dedicated PCSO in the future.
During yesterday’s Performance & Accountability Meeting, Katy Bourne said Sussex Police had badly mishandled the communication regarding the changes and the force had been left on the back-foot trying to regain the public’s confidence.
Watch the Meeting and Judge for Yourself
The Performance & Accountability Meeting was webcast, and you can watch the 30 minute discussion about Crowborough here.
New PCSO Role
From 3rd July, when the new model of Neighbourhood Policing is introduced, PCSOs will book-on at Hailsham, before being assigned tasks throughout the Wealden district.
PCSOs will be working to a three shift pattern (earlies, lates and rest days). The early shift will usually start at 8am and the late shift will finish between 10pm and 12midnight, depending on the day of the week. The shift pattern is based on meeting the times of demand on prevention teams.
In the new model, on each shift there will be four PCSOs booking on at Lewes, four booking on at Hailsham and five booking on at Eastbourne. However, the flexibility of the new model means that any of these PCSOs can be deployed anywhere across the district according to the demand, based on threat, harm, risk and vulnerability.
If there was a major or critical incident then Sussex Police have said PCSOs could be deployed from across the force to support it due to the changes made to the PCSO contract.
Both the Divisional Commander and the District Commander will be meeting privately with Town, District and County Councillors from Crowborough on Wednesday to reassure them about the changes.
Robbery at Poundfield Stores
The robbery at Poundfield stores in Crowborough on Good Friday when owner Kamal Patel, was forced to hand over £200 from the till by a young man wielding a knife has become a political football in this whole affair. In a newspaper article, the owner’s wife Neha said it had taken just over an hour for police to arrive from Eastbourne.
Sussex Police are defending their performance citing a suspect was arrested for the offence within 24 hours.
At yesterday’s meeting the Chief Constable went into great detail about way the police force responded to the 999 call at 11:38am, explaining the first officers were on scene within 17 minutes. Both a police dog unit and a police helicopter were also sent to Crowborough to assist in the hunt for the perpetrator fleeing from the scene.
Sussex Police confirm that three units attended the initial call to this incident with the first arriving at 11.55am. They say all the units were from Uckfield so were promptly at the scene. Police initially went to search a back garden, which was the believed location of the suspect after a sighting of a man who fitted the description of the suspect. By 12.07pm, the officers had secured the shop and were talking to staff and witnesses. During the meeting yesterday with the Commissioner, Chief Constable Giles York explained that it was detectives assigned to investigate the robbery who had travelled from Eastbourne.
Election on 5th May
The issue of community policing is now a hot issue with the election for Police and Crime Commissioner taking place on Thursday 5th May. The incumbent Katy Bourne is re-standing along with 4 other candidates from the main political parties. You can see their election addresses now on the Choose My PCC website.