Police address concerns about anti-social behaviour, theft from motor vehicles and cuckooing in Bognor Regis

Arun and Chichester prevention team acting inspector Danny West speaking to the public in Bognor Regis town centre last month. Photo: Kate Shemilt
Arun and Chichester prevention team acting inspector Danny West speaking to the public in Bognor Regis town centre last month. Photo: Kate Shemilt

Police officers are taking proactive steps towards putting an end to anti-social behaviour, motor vehicles theft and cuckooing in Bognor Regis

Arun and Chichester prevention team acting inspector Danny West gave a detailed policing update at the western Arun area committee meeting on Wednesday night.

Youth related anti-social behaviour

Following a spate of anti-social behaviour, Insp West revealed there has been a reboot to the Sussex Police early intervention scheme, after a total of £890,000 was secured from the Home Office intervention fund.

He said: "A youth co-coordinator has been recruited to work across the whole of West Sussex. In the last couple of months, there have been 132 referrals into the scheme across the whole of the county.

"We have made 28 referrals so far in Chichester and Arun but the speed of referrals is going up as staff get more acquainted to the process."

Insp West outlined the process of the scheme.

He said: "If a youth comes to our notice to do with anti-social behaviour or behaviour linked to misuse of drink and drugs, stage one will see them referred to the scheme and, if they are accepted, a PCSO (police community support officer) will visit their home address. They will then issue a letter and speak to the youth involved and their parent or guardian.

"If there are further problems, the prevention youth officer will do another home visit and extensive screening where they will ask questions about the activities they engage in, friendships they have and will issue further guidance on behaviour.

"If further problems occur, then the early intervention youth coordinator will attend and issue an acceptable behaviour contract which will list certain conditions relevant to them and will hopefully curb further problems. If it goes on, they will be referred into the youth offending service for three months and they then can potentially be paired up with a mentor, paid for by the programme, who then can actively engage the youth in activities and move them away from the sort of behaviour they are exhibiting in the community.

"Finally, at stage five, there would be a meeting to discuss a civil injunction. It's really good to have this process in place. We anticipate that with the vast majority of children, after meetings with the PCSO and after receiving a letter, we won't have any further problems."

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On Twitter, Katy Bourne OBE, police and crime commissioner for Sussex, said the reboot programme is 'already successfully helping young people and steering them away from antisocial behaviour and criminality'.

Insp West said the funding has also led to a detached youth work project in Arun, which 'gives provision for one to one mentoring'.

He continued: "It is not through the police but it is an addition to the help we are giving into crime and disorder. It is two teams consisting of two youth workers who take regular youth work sessions. They would target hot spot areas where youths are causing problems. That is really positive news."

The police sergeant also revealed the main problems in the area.

"There have been reports of youths on roof tops in the town centre, on top of shops, dropping items down and generally being anti-social," he said.

"We are getting reports in certain areas of low level drug use and the associated supply of the drugs. Predominately with youths that will be cannabis. There have been some criminal damage issues and The Regis School has been affected a couple of times in the last month.

"There have been a number of windows broken and that issue has led to the arrest of five youths. There have been some damaged windows at Felpham Community College as well. The investigations are proceeding."

Thefts from motor vehicles

On the subject of theft from vehicles, Insp West was 'pleased to report' that there has only been a one per cent rise in the last year, compared to the preceding 12 months. However, he revealed that Arun has 'experienced a spike' in the last couple of months.

He said: "There have been offences committed across the whole of the Bognor area, in Felpham, the town area, Pagham and Rose Green.

"Insecure vehicles have been targeted. There hasn't been a lot of damage to vehicles, as the targeted people have left their cars insecure. Vehicles have been targeted between the hours of midnight and 7am.

"Our prevention team has been focusing on any follow up lines of enquiry, via witnesses, CCTV or by identifiable stolen property. I am pleased to say that this has led to the recent arrests of five people and the recovery of property.

"All of the people arrested have been interviewed and the investigations are proceeding. Hopefully we get sufficient evidence to go on and charge the people."

Insp West said bail conditions have been used 'where appropriate', with night time curfews also being considered.

He added: "Officers are being directed to hot spot areas to ensure there are high visibility to patrols to deter further offences. We have been using social media to remind residents of the need to fully secure cars."

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Cuckooing

Insp West also spoke about the work being done to put a stop to increasing reports of cuckooing in the district. He was one of a number of police officers speaking to members of the public about the issue in Bognor's town centre last month. Read more here
He said: "Cuckooing is where organised crime groups associated with the supply of Class A drugs send dealers down from mainly, in this area, London to deal Class A drugs, such as heroin and cocaine. The risk is that, to do safely, they take over someone's address and they will stay there using threats of violence. There is a risk to the people who have their homes taken over.

"We continue to hold monthly safeguarding meetings to discuss particular persons and addresses in Arun, who we deem to be at risk of cuckooing. We have five addresses getting regular visits from our officers. We make use of legislation that is available to us in order to lower the risk and keep people safe.

"We use community protection notices on the people who come down and have no legitimate link to this area. The notice says don't come back or you risk being arrested because you have no reason to come to this area. In a situation where we consider the local resident to be complicit in the supply of Class A drugs, we will also put restrictions on them and who they have in their homes."

Insp West said one person, who was subject to one of those notices, was 'successfully issued with a criminal behaviour order' at court on Wednesday.

"For that particular person, if they are found at anybody's address in Arun for which they don't personally hold a tenancy, they can be arrested and be given a term of imprisonment," he said.

"We are also working on a closure order for an address in Arun, which is where we can close an address down for three months or a maximum of six months. We did that on three addresses locally at the end of last year.

"Each one was subject to huge amounts of anti-social behaviour to do with supply and use of class A drugs. On each occasion, we completely cleared up the problems and made the lives of local residents a lot better."

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