PCSO a ‘problem’ for Yapton parish councillors

Katy Bourne ENGSUS00120140801130135
Katy Bourne ENGSUS00120140801130135

FRUSTRATED villagers have raised their concerns about Yapton’s PCSO to Sussex’s police and crime commissioner, Katy Bourne.

At Yapton Parish Council’s annual meeting on Monday (May 12), villagers and parish councillors spoke about the area’s PCSO, Neil Billingham, who they claim is difficult to deal with.

Mrs Bourne listened intently while Cllr Dan Goddard told her how PCSO Billingham would, on occasion, shrug off questions from the public.

Cllr Goddard, who is chairman of the village’s police neighbourhood forum, added that at a meeting of the group on Wednesday, the PCSO became ‘aggressive’ when being asked by a resident why he would not hold bike stamping sessions in Yapton.

Cllr Goddard said: “When a member of the public joined the forum and then questioned him why bike stamping only ever goes on in Barnham and why he only ever wants to be in Barnham, he got highly aggressive and told him to ‘shut up’.”

PCSO Billingham said he did get ‘a bit short’ during Wednesday’s meeting.

“It was a bit of a verbal battering,” he added. “I was getting the same question over and over again. It was frustrating.”

He explained he has seven parish councils to deal with, comprising about 11 villages.

He often has to deal with several issues and will prioritise his time to the area he receives the most reports from.

He said: “The nature of policing is very reactive now.

“If I get six calls from Aldingbourne and none from Yapton, I’m obviously going to spend more time in Aldingbourne.

“I do patrol and make sure when I am dealing with jobs I plan my route so I can go to the schools at pick-up and drop-off time.”

He said he advertised monthly bike marking events in Barnham and had, in previous months, visited village halls across his patch. But he said the events had been poorly attended.

Mrs Bourne said she was ‘disappointed’ in the comments she heard. She said she would raise the issues with Sussex’s Police’s assistant chief constable, who is in charge of neighbourhood policing in West Sussex.

Cllr Goddard said that a ‘hearts and minds’ approach needed to be adopted. He urged the PCSO to go out into the community of Yapton more and be seen engaging with the children at the skate park and dealing with the village’s drug culture.

Responding, PCSO Bill-
ingham said: “I do speak to residents but unless they’re looking out of their kitchen window, they won’t always see me.”