Residents are claiming Hastings town centre has a problem with abusive ‘junkies’ threatening the public and are calling on police to do something.
Many people have been complaining about drunk or drugged people attacking them and acting anti-socially in Wellington Square over the past few weeks, describing them as ‘junkies’.
Police said enforcement is not always the answer for the problem and Hastings Borough Council claimed it had a good record on dealing with these issues.
One woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Observer she was threatened by a man who seemed on drugs when she was working on Queens Road.
“We have a serious problem in the town centre with these junkies and no one’s doing anything about it,” she said.
“The police can’t do anything about it unless a crime’s been committed, but they’re threatening and intimidating people.
“Where do we go from here? This is not the town I remember.”
Many people have been talking on the social network Streetlife and others about the issues, with one person saying a ‘huge gang of yobs’ outside Card Factory were ‘swearing and saying nasty things to old people and scaring them’.
Chief Inspector Rosemary Ross said police work with a number of other agencies to tackle the problems in the town centre and work together to help those in need.
“Enforcement alone is not always the answer to some of these issues, especially those which involve people many of whom have complex needs,” she said.
“We deal with incidents based on the threat, harm or risk, and the vulnerability of individuals.
“This is carefully assessed when calls are received and allocated, although all calls to police reporting incidents are entered in our records.”
Ch Insp Ross said the street community is a vulnerable group with many complex needs, and enforcement may not always be the right option.
“In Hastings, Sussex Police also have a dedicated rough sleeper officer working as part of this multiagency response,” she said. “The issue of rough sleeping and street homeless is common along the coast and in Brighton and we are working together with these agencies to ensure an appropriate response is provided.
“In relation to drugs, again we are continually improving how we are working together to address issues in relation to drug use, and some of those who are vulnerable are already undertaking rehabilitative treatment, as noted by the person making the complaint.”
The council’s lead member for the environment Warren Davies said: “Hastings Borough Council adopts a sustainable approach to issues associated with street drinkers, which incorporates enforcement and outreach support.
“Hastings isn’t the only seaside town where this issue is growing, as cuts to social services bite.
“We have a good track record of working with a variety of agencies, including the police, on issues such as this and will continue to do so, reconciling our concern for the vulnerable with the need for a safe public space that can be enjoyed by all.”
Anyone with concerns or information about drug offences should contact police via firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 101.
You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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