Public Meeting – Civic Centre Uckfield
Wednesday 29 May 2019

Uckfield Town Council and Wealden Police came together to hold a public meeting on 29 May 2019. Despite being convened at short notice, the meeting was well attended, with over 100 residents of all ages turning out to hear what agencies are doing to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) and criminality in the town.

The Sussex Police panel consisted of Assistant Chief Constable Nick May, District Commander Chief Inspector Anita Turner, and Wealden District Inspector Jon Gross.

Uckfield Town Council member, Cllr. Duncan Bennett, chaired the meeting and began by inviting Inspector Gross to provide an update about recent police activity.

Inspector Gross thanked people for coming along to provide their perspective as local residents. He summarised recent police actions in respect of some recent assaults; crimes that had attracted significant public interest.

Several individuals were arrested, with many the subject of bail conditions designed to curtail their opportunity to cause further problems. The investigations into these matters were continuing, coordinated by detectives from the East Sussex Investigations Department.

Several departments had contributed to this work, and also to the business of maintaining preventative patrols in Uckfield, Crowborough, and the railway line between the two towns.

Police Inspector John Gross

Inspector Gross outlined the focus of police and partnership activity in the weeks ahead. This included:

  • Liaison and support to Uckfield and Crowborough secondary schools
  • Licensing visits to premises in both towns
  • Bail checks of those arrested to ensure conditions are being complied with
  • Continuing engagement patrols within the two towns
  • Active monitoring of issues and problems and the pursuit of anyone committing offences
  • Further joint working with Special Constables, British Transport Police and Rail Enforcement officers
  • Dedicated patrol activity in hot spot areas
  • Regular updates back to the local communities

After all three members of the Police panel had provided assurances that tackling the above issues would remain a priority, the meeting was opened up for questions, facilitated by Cllr. Bennett.

A good third of the audience asked questions, all of which helped form the discussion. The following is a summary of the main issues and concerns raised:

  • A general fear of crime, and specifically a fear of being out in certain parts of the town in the evenings
  • Frustration that a small number of young people were responsible and the authorities seemingly unable to sort the problem out
  • A request for additional support into local schools – parents reporting that children are actively expressing concern about the issues
  • The importance of simultaneously focussing on both Uckfield and Crowborough, as the issues are spanning parts of both towns
  • Specific concerns raised about the railway station and rail route between Crowborough and Uckfield
  • The importance of reporting crimes and intelligence, to help the police and authorities act upon all relevant information
  • A fear of knife crime, and concern that young people are regularly smoking cannabis in parks and public areas
  • The perceived lack of visible policing in the town
  • The need for regular communication of the action being taken
  • A need for agencies to work in partnership, both to identify practices that will most effectively address these issues, and which will deter other young people from becoming involved in anti-social behaviour

All the points raised were discussed and addressed by the police panel, with contributions also from Cllr. Bennett and Town Clerk, Holly Goring.

The meeting was also a good opportunity for those present to understand the powers and procedures available to the police, and other agencies such as the Youth Offending Service, to address the issues.

At the end of the meeting, Inspector Gross thanked everyone for their attendance. He indicated that a strategic meeting of local partners would be a useful exercise going forward and that it would be very helpful to have one or two local residents involved if willing.

As of June 6, 2019, additional police officers were deployed every day throughout June to specifically tackle anti-social behaviour.

These deployments occured in areas across Wealden, Lewes, and Eastbourne, with officers primarily focusing their attention on Uckfield and Crowborough.

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