Crimes against foreign students see further reduction

Members of the HOSAC committee
Members of the HOSAC committee

LANGUAGE schools in town have praised police for their work in combating crime against foreign students.

Latest figures haverevealed there were only 27 recorded crimes against students this summer, compared to 39 last year and 56 in 2005.

In August 2008 Qatari student Mohammed al-Majed was attacked outside a kebab shop in Hastings and died.

Alexandra Stamenkovic, manager of Cambridge Gardens College, believes the town has since become a safer place for foreign students to visit.

She said: “Our students had no problems this year and the town is safe, except the beach at night. We always tell our students how to stay safe when they arrive.”

Judith Vandepeer, school manager of EAC in Cambridge Gardens, said: “I congratulate the police, who we work with very closely, for improving safety.

“We’ve seen a rise of 21 per cent in the number of students visiting our school this year.”

She also praised the setting up of Safe Student Zones in town, which are places students can contact someone if they feel unsafe.

This contact then has direct links with police as part of Operation Columbus, a scheme designed to reduce crime against foreign visitors.

The operation is run each year by Hastings Police and Hastings Borough Council in partnership with the language schools.

This month 20-year-old Joseph Heavey was jailed for 15 months after he attempted to rob two 15-year-old German students in July in Pevensey Road, St Leonards.

He wielded a belt at them, demanding they hand over their wallets.

One of the teenagers was struck by the belt but both escaped uninjured.

Heavey fled to France after he was arrested and bailed but was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court for attempted robbery and racially aggravated assault.

Sergeant Simon Harston, who sits on the Hastings Overseas Students Advisory Committee (HOSAC), said: “By working together with our partners we have been able to reduce offences against student visitors to Hastings by a further 31 per cent over last year. This is excellent, and we will continue to do all that we can to make Hastings a safe and enjoyable place for students to visit.”

Kevin Boorman, chairman of HOSAC, said: “The language school business is vitally important to Hastings’ visitor economy, with an estimated 35,000 language students visiting us this year.

“It is therefore important that the students feel welcome and safe, and I am very pleased that our partners Sussex Police have achieved such a fantastic result with Operation Columbus. The number of recorded offences against language students has fallen dramatically over the last 10 years.”