On The beat with Hastings District Commander Mark Ling

CRIME in Hastings and St Leonards is at a seven-year low, with 4,347 fewer offences than 2004. That’s a 34 per cent reduction but more importantly means less people have been the victim of crime in the town.

As we begin our new performance plan year I intend to build on this success with a focus on policing in Hastings that makes a difference to people’s lives. To illustrate what this really means I quote from an email I recently received from a person whose father had been the victim of a burglary: “Recently my father’s guitar was stolen from his flat, and he told me today the police had got it back for him, so I wanted to say what an excellent job you had done, and so fast. You really have made him so happy, so again, thank you.” An example of us delivering public service as well as justice.

This year one priority area will be tackling anti-social behaviour. We have launched Operation Blitzed designed to target anti-social behaviour linked to underage people drinking in public places. In one weekend more than 80 bottles and cans of alcohol were seized.

We know young people drinking alcohol in public is often linked to incidents of anti-social behaviour and criminal damage. Our intervention at street level starts a chain of events to prevent and divert young people away from these activities and in doing so provide a safer and more confident neighbourhood.

On April 1, Hastings became the only area in the whole of Sussex to become an Intensive Drugs Intervention area. This involves identifying offenders using Class A drugs as they go through the justice system.

It puts into action a range of interventions to deal with their behaviour, getting them out of crime and into treatment and other support. This begins at their first point of contact with the criminal justice system at arrest and continues through the journey that can include custody, court, sentence, treatment and beyond into resettlement. This is an innovative approach that is unique at Hastings in breaking the cycle of drug influenced offending.

Many will be disappointed that no charges have been brought against anyone in relation to the Hastings Pier arson. On a personal note and as a life long Hastings resident I feel the same way. The Crown Prosecution Service must however review and consider the evidence available before any charges are authorised.

The police investigation has been very thorough and detailed. It will remain an open and active investigation and if any new evidence or lines of enquiry become available to us then these will be actively pursued.