New High Sheriff of West Sussex reports on his first few days in office

The new High Sheriff of West Sussex, Neil Hart, reports on his first few days in office in the first of his regular briefings.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 5:16 pm

I started with a blank piece of paper... well, not quite, as at my Declaration Ceremony I said that I wanted to support those organisations in the county which are involved with justice, law and order and the emergency services, and the charities broadly in that field, but, of course, not to the exclusion of other organisations and charities in the county.

And in particular I wanted to find out how they are handling the process of coming out of the pandemic and the restrictions associated with the pandemic.

A great start was meetings with the Chief Constable and the Chief Fire Officer.

Neil Hart, the High Sheriff of West Sussex for 2021-22 was invested in a virtual dedication ceremony on April 30

But it was also inspiring to learn about the work of several charities involved in helping prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families.

I met virtually the teams at Sussex Pathways and Making it Out and also met the team at Spurgeons attached to the prison in Lewes.

These charities and others do vital work helping ex-prisoners adjust to life outside prison, directing them to new skills and life approaches, and assisting them to rebuild their relationships with family, friends and the workplace.

A person who can be helped to turn his life around is so much less likely to reoffend – a win-win for the community and most important that person and his family and friends.

Despite lockdown, particularly in prison, and restrictions on meeting and face-to-face interaction, these charities and their volunteers have continued their work, and as one they look forward to more normal times when they can be even more effective.

And there are other charities in this field which I will be meeting in the coming weeks.

I will also be visiting the courts and I will see for myself the pressure they are under and how they and their staff are responding.