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Drug violence rise concern

Violent crime makes up nearly half of all offences in the Bognor Regis area.


Latest statistics from the Safer Arun Partnership show incidents of violence in the district contributed 46 per cent of total crime in the year to the end of last March.


The total of just over 4,000 violent offences recorded by Sussex Police was an increase of 14 per cent – or 577 offences – compared to the previous year.


The increase in violence per 1,000 residents, said to be a more accurate gauge greater accuracy of the risk and likelihood of being a victim of such crime, increased in that period from 28 to 32.


Most of the violence was recorded against a person at 42 per cent of the total offences. This was a slightly higher increase of 566 offences or 14.8 per cent in that period.


In terms of every 1,000 residents, the incidence of violence against the person also rose by four to 28.


Cllr David Edwards (C, Felpham W) said at Arun District Council’s environment and leisure working group he was concerned about the increases.


“Violent crime has spiked by 14 per cent in this review of the year,” he said. “It’s the only category that seems to have significantly increased.


“In fact, in the majority of them, crime has actually gone down. I’m not suggesting that Arun is not a safe place to live because, comparatively, it actually is.


“But that is still a quite worrying statistic. Are we doing enough to stop this?”


Inspector Steve Turner, who heads Sussex Police’s Arun prevention team, told the working group: “We have seen some targeted violent crime. For a few of the areas we have been targeting, there have been some linked to drugs and county drug lines.”


Sussex Police constantly monitored the crimes being committed and acted to make sure they safeguarded those they regarded as vulnerable and deter those responsible for the crimes.


“We will also work with licensees where there is an alcohol-related element to the violence. We have a good working relationship with Arun’s licensing team and the Sussex Police licensing team,” he said.


Arun community manager Georgina Bouette said: “There has been a national focus on serious violence and a lot of work in terms of violence reduction units.


“We share some of the negative impacts of county drug lines coming in and that includes targeted violence. It is very targeted and not a general threat.”


County drugs lines describes the actions of dealers from major cities using residents in smaller towns like Bognor Regis to transport and sell the illegal substances.


Violent crime and serious and organised crime are two of the partnership’s priorities for the coming year.


The third most common type of crime in the Arun district in the 2018/19 year was criminal damage at 10 per cent of the total number of offences.


This was an increase of 33 offences, or 2.5 per cent, compared to the prior year.


Mrs Bouette spoke about the partnership’s successes in tackling rough sleeping, anti-social behaviour and in raising awareness about modern slavery and child exploitation.

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