Observer Comment: Good work in crime reduction must continue

REPUTATIONS tend to lag a bit behind reality. Hastings and St Leonards still suffers from an outdated idea that it is a seething, crime-ridden, law-and-order blackspot, our ‘mean streets’ forming the backdrop for lazy jokes at our expense.

But the crime figures released this week show that that stereotype is more inaccurate than ever.

It would of course be madness to claim that Hastings does not have problems which still need to be addressed and some pockets of the town need more attention than others.

Drugs-related crime in particular still needs careful monitoring despite many recent high-profile successes, while some of the alcohol-fuelled antics that clog up our courts on Monday mornings still pose a problem.

But these figures confirm what many have been saying for years - this town is noticeably safer than it once was. It is vital that this good work continues.

Whatever happens to Chief Inspector Mark Ling - currently under investigation over an ‘offensive’ text message - he and his team have worked wonders.

We keep being told that job cuts will not affect the quality of policing in our town - if they do then the MP and the force’s bosses will have some difficult questions to answer. We cannot lose this momentum and allow things to go back to the way they were. That would be a real crime.

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THIS weekend sees the town’s annual Armed Forces Day take place in Alexandra Park.

Hopefully hundreds of people will turn out to show not only their respects to the town’s fallen, but also their gratitude to those men and women still in active service.

Whatever your politics and thoughts on the current conflicts, this country’s soldiers show a bravery and professionalism of which we should all be proud.

One morning and afternoon showing our appreciation is not a lot to ask for when so many locals spend every day fighting to protect freedom.

Come rain or shine, lets make sure we turn out and say a big thank you.

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HASTINGS photographer Giles Duley is the true embodiment of bravery and triumph over adversity.

Despite losing both legs and an arm after stepping on a landmine in war-torn Afghanistan, he has vowed to go back out there, risking his life to tell the story of ordinary people caught up in the conflict.

And rather than giving up on reaching this goal, Giles is battling through hours of intensive physio five days a week to get walking again using prosthetic legs.

Well done, Giles. The Observer wishes you well.