HAILSHAM: New police chief aims to reduce the fear of crime

Chief Inspector Dick Coates
Chief Inspector Dick Coates

HAILSHAM residents will see a change to the public face of the local police team this month as Chief Inspector Dick Coates takes over the helm of Wealden’s police force.

Chief Inspector Coates is Wealden’s new District Commander following the departure of Chief Inspector Julia Pope, who has taken up a role as Head of Neighbourhood Policing for Sussex Police.

CI Coates, former District Commander in Eastbourne, has been with Sussex Police Force for 23 years and moves to his new role from Police Headquarters, Neighbourhood Policing.

His new post will see him co-ordinating Wealden’s 24-hour policing response, its Criminal Investigation Department and Major Crime team.

CI Coates, District Commander, said he was looking forward to the challenges his new role would bring.

“It is a different style of policing, Wealden is a mainly rural area,” he said.

“As a whole, crime is more difficult to detect in rural areas because everybody is spread around, but because there is not as much violent crime in rural areas it is easier to find out who has committed violent crimes.

“The challenge is the fear of crime,” he said. “Although crime is exceptionally low and there has been an 11 per cent reduction in the hub of Wealden, the fear of crime still seems quite high.

“I would like to find the golden nugget to answer that one.

“The chances of being a victim of crime in Wealden are very low,” he added.

Despite sharp cuts to Sussex Police’s budget and reduced opening hours across police stations, including Hailsham, CI Coates believes that by working together with other public services, the police can offer a first-class service to the public.

“What I think we can improve on is customer satisfaction,” he said. “We are striving to do that.

“We have said for a number of years that we can really take partnership working to the next level so we could still provide the same service with the reduced budget.

“Forcing us all together will hopefully provide a better service,” he added.