Call for more police in Littlehampton after incident at café bistro and bar
Littlehampton has a ‘policing crisis’ and ‘criminals think they are untouchable’, said Paul Wakeman, who runs the ShopWatch Radio & Disc for the town, a traders’ initiative to counter crime against businesses.
His claims come after an incident at Cafe 72, in which two men allegedly left without paying before a verbal altercation broke out outside the café and bar in the high street.
Windows were also allegedly smashed during the incident and again the following day, according to the cafe’s owner, Ruth Hughesdon.
“We do have a policing crisis in the town centre”, said Mr Wakeman, who is also vice chairman of Littlehampton Traders Partnership.
“Some local criminals think that they rule the roost and that they are untouchable.
“We have had a few incidents recently where shopworkers and other traders have been threatened by them.
“Nobody should have to put up with violence and intimidation at work.”
Mr Wakeman raised concerns about only having one PCSO for the town centre, who ‘works her little socks off’.
“I think she is under a lot of pressure and her work load is far too much for one person,” he added
“We do have business wardens but not full-time and we can go four or five days without seeing one.
“If we do see a police car, it drives into the car park then drives around the town and away. They don’t get out of the car and walk around.”
He said the town needs a full-time uniformed presence six days a week for seven to eight hours a day, whether that be a warden, a police officer or a PCSO.
In response, Chief Inspector Jon Carter, District Commander for Arun and Chichester said: “I am particularly aware of the pressures that many businesses are under following the global pandemic, and I am keen to do as much as possible to support them by tackling issues of crime and disorder that may impact on them.
“We are actively targeting those committing crime and disorder in the town, and have recently executed a number of warrants in Littlehampton targeting the supply of controlled substances.
“Together with our partners, we are working hard to tackle the issues that drive some of the crime and disorder issues that the traders in Littlehampton town experience.
“At a meeting with the Littlehampton Town Clerk and the Littlehampton Town Centre Regeneration Officer on Thursday, June 17, we outlined some of this activity, and agreed to form a working group with traders to better address some of the issues.
“The DISC system is a useful mechanism for traders to share information and reports with police. All these logs are read. Where crimes are disclosed, these are recorded, and where there is evidence, then action will be taken against those responsible.
“Other reports are used to inform partnership working to prevent crime and disorder.
“I do acknowledge that feedback on this activity has not always been as good as it could be, and this is being addressed.
“There are currently two PCSOs assigned to Littlehampton Town and other PCSOs can and do work across areas in order to deal with specific issues.
“Police officers do patrol the town as well, and the deployment plans have recently been reviewed to increase that. This will include deploying officers covertly in order to better target some of the crime and disorder issues impacting on the town.
“I am aware of and have personally reviewed the incident at Café 72, which is being actively investigated. All proportionate steps will be taken to seek to identify and bring to justice those responsible.
“We also continue to remind local people to report all instances of crime or disorder that they see or become aware of. Call 999 if it is happening now, or contact us via 101 or report it online if it is not immediately urgent.”