Police in Arun are cracking down on drug dealing after new figures showed a striking increase in drug offences.
Drug offences in the district increased by 53 per cent in the year ending September, 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics, dwarfing the countywide increase of 15 per cent.
Despite the troubling rise, the drug offence rate in Arun is still in line with the average for Sussex, but local police have launched a crackdown to stop the situation getting out of control.
Arun Prevention Inspector Dave Lyons said: “Having listened to the community, the local police team have increased activity around dealing with drug dealing and use. Because these offences are recorded when discovered, there is likely to be an initial increase in recorded drugs crimes.
“Over the previous 12 months we have been conducting intelligence led policing activities to tackle drug issues within local community.
“This activity includes the identification of vulnerable members of society and ensuring the relevant support from not only us, but other partner agencies is in place.
“This proactive work which is being conducted in the area has meant there has been a rise in these offences as those responsible are being identified by us.
“Our work with partner agencies to tackle this issue in the area will continue and closure orders and criminal behaviour orders will continue to be sought.
“We would ask the community to continue to report drug issues to us to ensure the relevant action is taken. You can do this either online or by calling 101, or anonymously via the Crimestoppers charity.”
The drug offence surge in Arun is the highest for any district in the county over that 12-month period and mirrors a worrying trend across Sussex.
Crime has risen across all of the county’s regions and Arun has seen its total crime rate go up by 10 per cent.
According to the Superintendent for West Sussex, Miles Ockwell, the statistics are indicative of the pressures faced by the police but are in line with increases seen by other police forces.
“When compared to the national picture, Sussex remains one of the safest places to live, work and visit,” he said.
“We take all reports of crime seriously and are committed to preventing, disrupting and investigating crime.
“It is important to point out that the police are not the only public body with a statutory responsibility to reduce crime and we work in partnership with other agencies to seek to address the issues which may contribute to increases in crime.
“The planned investment in policing is welcomed and we will see extra police officers working to reduce crime which will make a difference.
“However, we also have to consider this in the context of how other services are funded and how that may impact on the overall level of crime and anti-social behaviour within our communities.”
In October, Sussex Police announced plans to recruit 129 new police officers by April 2021, on top of an ongoing four-year, 250-officer recruitment drive.
Arun’s overall crime rate stands at 69 per 1,000 people – below the Sussex and national average.
Sussex’s crime rate rose to 72.8 in the year ending September, 2019.