A Crawley police inspector said officers who were granted special stop and search powers to stop a brawl will focus on ‘real community’ policing.
Officers in Bewbush were given powers to carry out searches for dangerous weapons after a knuckleduster, metal pole and handcuffs were found when a large group of men was dispersed.
A police spokesman said Sussex Police’s Chief Constable gave police additional stop and search powers after a 23-year-old local man was arrested on suspicion of affray and in response to community concern over the incident near Curteys Walk, Bewbush, in the early hours of October 18.
The orders allowed police to stop and search people in Bewbush without specific grounds to justify a search on October 18 and 19. An 18-year-old man from Horsham arrested on suspicion of possession of a rounders bat.
He was released on bail until November 15.
Inspector Suzanne Neilson from Crawley Neighbourhood Team said: “We issued Section 60 authority in Bewbush last month on two consecutive evenings. The authority proved to be a great success. By their very nature these orders are only used for short periods when deemed appropriate.
“We will seek an authority under Section 60 when we believe it is necessary to protect the community.
“We continue to concentrate on real community policing, working with local residents and partner organisations to ensure Crawley is kept safe.”
Cllr Michael Jones (Lab, Bewbush) said: “The Chief Constable was right to authorise greater stop and search powers in Bewbush recently, and the work which has gone on has made sure that the neighbourhood has not suffered further disruption. This was handled sensitively and fairly, and I don’t think as a ward councillor I could have asked for more. None of this alters the fact that Bewbush is a vibrant neighbourhood with a big heart and great sense of community.”
Mr Jones, Crawley Borough Council cabinet member for community engagement, voiced his support for police dealing with possession of offensive weapons ‘extremely firmly’.
Five people have been stabbed in Crawley since September.
Mr Jones said: “I’m confident the police are doing everything necessary to ensure that Crawley remains safe.
“Clearly, no-one should be going around with offensive weapons on them, and the police have my full support in dealing extremely firmly with any such behaviour. I want zero tolerance of such unacceptable behaviour, and I believe most residents do too.
“An important thing to stress is that all of these recent incidents have been unrelated to each other.
“I continue to urge all members of the community to be responsible, and to report to the police in confidence if they suspect anyone may be carrying such weapons.”