TOWN centre crime in Bognor Regis will be the subject of a meeting next week.
The need to tackle the offences will be discussed at next Friday’s session between representatives of Arun District Council and Sussex Police.
Arun community safety manager Georgina Bouette gave details of the meeting in response to concerns about anti-social behaviour in the shopping area.
She said she would be sitting down with Chief Inspector Justin Birkenshaw, of Sussex Police, as well as Bognor Regis town centre manager Toyubur Rahman and a member of the business wardens scheme.
“We will be talking about some of the concerns of the traders, what are the big concerns about responses and how that is being reflected in terms of common crimes. I very much want it to be a very proactive and constructive and action-focused conversation. It’s not just about having a chat.
“It’s about what we are going to do and how we are going to manage it.”
Cllr Jim Brooks (I, Marine) had earlier told Arun’s environment and leisure working group meeting on Tuesday instances of anti-social behaviour and street drinking took place in the London Road area.
He echoed comments by Cllr Dr James Walsh after he said Littlehampton’s town centre was blighted by persistent street drinkers whose presence was damaging the area and deterring shoppers.
“They are bringing the town down in Bognor Regis as I am sure they are in Littlehampton. These people should be removed to get the treatment they need and to get them off the streets.
“The traders in the town centre are so appalled by the lack of improvement and they are disappointed by the business wardens, who don’t seem to be there when you need them.
“We need to be seeing people on the ground who could help,” he said.
He said he was also alarmed by statistics which showed a nine per cent year on year rise in crimes in the district in the past year to 9,231 incidents.
This has been partly attributed to changes in the way crimes are recorded.
Cllr Dr James Walsh (LD, Littlehampton Beach) also said he was alarmed to hear at another meeting the lack of policing numbers to respond to emergency calls.
“The average number of response police personnel to cover the Chichester and Arun districts is 14 to 16,” he said.
“You can’t cover geographically and get a fast response to people in all of the Arun district and all of the Chichester district with just that low level of police response teams.”
The council should direct its concern about the situation to the Chief Constable and the Sussex police and crime commissioner, he said.
* Ms Bouette also estimated some 10-20 rough sleepers were in Bognor Regis and Littlehampton. A government-ordered survey would be carried out in early November to find out the number.