Police test new powers to stop anti-social behaviour

Lynda Guy and Justina Beeken SUS-150126-143508001
Lynda Guy and Justina Beeken SUS-150126-143508001

Crawley’s top police officer said the force was testing new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Chief Inspector Justina Beeken said Sussex Police was looking at using dispersal orders in a joint initiative with Crawley Borough Council (CBC).

She made the comments at Crawley Question Time, on Wednesday (February 4), after a resident from Three Bridges raised concerns.

A member of the audience said Sussex Police had not kept its promises to deal with anti-social behaviour in the neighbourhood for years.

He said areas in Three Bridges had become “terrible places” to be in the last 15 years because of drug and alcohol addicts.

Crawley officers were looking at using Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO) under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

A PSPO can make activities such as drunken anti-social behaviour illegal in a public space.

The council is able to make the order for activities that make nearby residents’ lives worse.

Chief Inspector Beeken said officers who responded to anti -social behaviour calls in the area often found no crimes taking place.

She said police resources had to be prioritised but added: “Believe me, it’s not something that’s gone off my radar nor has it gone of the radar of my team.

“We do take it very seriously and I appreciate the blight it can have on people’s lives.”

She said earlier lack of police resources in the area had been rectified.

She added the scheme had to be a joint initiative with the local authority.

A member of Crawley Neighbourhood Watch raised concerns over worsening communication between Sussex Police and the community group.

Chief Inspector Beeken said the force faced “painful” budget cuts and added: “The way we deliver is going to change.

“As that evolves however the partnerships we have are very valuable to us.”

Dr Amit Bhargava, chief clinical officer for Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group, called for better coordination between services that help vulnerable people.

He said people with drug addiction and mental health issues needed to services to be “put around them”.

Cllr Peter Lamb, leader of CBC, said: “Ultimately we need to get these people help because we can relocate the problem but it doesn’t really address it.

“Partnership working is genuinely exciting. I think it’s really sad for things to become difficult for it to become default.” He said the approach was cheaper and best for the people involved.