The loss of Police Community Support Officers is already leading to an increase in crime in Southwater - according to the parish council.
During a presentation by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne to Southwater Parish Council last Wednesday members pointed out they had gone from having two PSCOs to sharing their remaining PCSO Damian Cecil with Nuthurst, Lower Beeding and Mannings Heath.
Chairman of the parish council Peter Buckley told the meeting that ‘crime had recently increased’ and parish clerk Catherine Tobin told Mrs Bourne that Southwater had ‘lost out’ to other communities in terms of police resources.
Mr Buckley said: “We understand the problem with money but we are concerned about the crime rate going up.”
Parish councillor David Nagy said there was ‘form’ for this as about a dozen years ago they had seen a massive rise in anti-social behaviour, in part he said, down to the unique demography of Southwater with 38 per cent of the population under 18.
He thought that in the long-term withdrawing police resources would be counter-productive if it lead to problems building up, as had happened in the past.
Mr Nagy added: “It’s beholden upon the PCSOs to participate in that engagement and it worked.”
Pauline Flores-Moore, vice chairman of the council, said that a vital part of controlling crime in the village was the intelligence PSCOs gathered.
She added: “We do not want to go back to that situation. Without that intelligence it will happen.
“By taking Damian out we are not going to get it.”
Mrs Tobin said the matter had been raised with chief inspector Howard Hodges, Horsham district commander.
She added: “It [crime] may not be being reported but it’s happening.”
This week chief inspector Howard Hodges, Horsham district commander, has stressed he remains committed to delivering quality and effective neighbourhood policing across the district, reducing crime and keeping people safe.
Whilst CI Hodges acknowledges Southwater has lost a PCSO and Damian Cecil’s area has expanded, PCSO Cecil is being supported by PC Darren Worsfold and special constable Neil Worth.
He said for a number of reasons - including PCSO Cecil’s ability to detect and deal with emerging issues quickly before they get out of hand - Southwater enjoys low levels of crime and ASB.
He said the PCSO loss is proportionate in the context of policing the entire Horsham district.
CI Hodges told the County Times: “In PCSO Damian Cecil you have a very experienced PCSO who has a very good knowledge of the area, is supported by PC Darren Worsfold who, in turn, is supplemented by special constable Neil Worth has patrolled in Southwater and has a particular affiliation to the area.
“I know that PCSO Damian Cecil picks up on emerging issues very quickly and deals with them before they get out of hand.
“Southwater has low levels of crime and ASB and is provided with an appropriate level of Neighbourhood Policing Team coverage. I remain committed to delivering quality and effective neighbourhood policing across Horsham, reducing crime and keeping people safe.”