More than 100 people defied the appalling weather to take part in the Crawley Question Time debate.
Crime, flooding, health, potholes and expansion at Gatwick were the hot topics during the debate at the Civic Hall on Wednesday (February 5).
The event was the fifth such debate to be held and Crawley Borough Council received more than 90 questions on a variety of topics.
Chaired by the Mayor of Crawley, Cllr Bob Burgess, the panel was made up of: Chief Inspector Justina Beeken, of Sussex Police; Dr Amit Bhargava, of the Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group, Cllr Peter Lamb, council leader Cllr Howard Bloom, Cllr Bob Lanzer and Chris Maidement, chair of both Crawley’s Local Economic Action Group and the Corporation of Central Sussex College.
One of the first questions came from Tony Herbert, of Nothgate, who asked: “Is Crawley becoming a lawless town? The number of crimes has been alarming.”
Chief Inspector Beeken told the meeting that crime across Crawley was down, although incidents of burglary were up.
She urged residents to assist the police by reporting suspicious behaviour and supporting their local Neighbourhood Watch groups.
She added: “Unfortunately, I don’t have the resources to put a police officer on every street and, even if I did, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we would have zero crime in Crawley.”
Regarding Operation Minnesota, which was launched to deal with burglaries targeting Asian households, Chief Inspector Beeken reported the thieves had been part of two organised crime gangs operating nationally – not just in Crawley – and that three more people had been charged.
She said: “Some of those are already serving custodial sentences and will be deported from this country when they have finished those sentences.”
Although she was unable to go into details, Chief Inspector Beeken told the meeting her officers were working to target individuals involved with organised crime gangs in the area.
She said: “We are aware and we are taking steps to tackle these issues.”