OUT IN THE FIELD: Getting the needle over drugs debris

The pile of discarded used needles and drug paraphernalia in a town centre doorway
The pile of discarded used needles and drug paraphernalia in a town centre doorway

I detest it when people run our lovely town down but this week I couldn’t blame them after a pile of discarded used needles and associated drugs paraphernalia were found in a town centre doorway in Gildredge Road.

Thankfully the council’s Neighbourhood First team members were notified and despatched to remove them and tidy the area up fairly swiftly.

Thankfully nobody was injured by the careless dumping of the needles. But the issue provoked a fresh debate on the burning problem of the town’s street drinkers and drug users who are dotted around the town from outside the old post office in Langney Road to behind the Tourist Information Centre in Hyde Gardens.

The authorities might not like to hear it but the problems are getting worse. Much worse. Visitors emerging from the railway station are met with beggars, drunks and this week an unsightly brawl between members of the street community.

Business owners say they regularly have to clear up used needles and human excrement outside their premises and shops are reporting a massive increase in shoplifting. Something has got to be done and soon. Anti-social behaviour orders, dispersal orders or the like clearly aren’t working.

It’s sad reading that Giles York, the Chief Constable of Sussex Police, has reportedly said there is no ‘added value’ in his officers visiting many victims of crimes and that it isn’t really the best use of policing and investigation time. Mr York says an officer visiting a victim isn’t going to add any value to an investigation, and actually that person’s time is better spent trying to find the offender than reassuring them. “It can often be an awful lot more convenient for people to have a service delivered by email or text than having the commitment of a face-to-face meeting,” says the police boss. 
I do feel for Mr York who heads up a force with dwindling resources and increased demands and one that wants people to report some crimes online via the website or email which is, he says, ‘far more convenient for them and can be managed more efficiently by us’. Unfortunately that method will never cut the mustard with a pensioner who has had her purse nicked by some scumbag and wants to be reassured. Or the family whose son has just died at Beachy Head and won’t have a family liaison officer to guide them through the process of what happens next because his death isn’t part of an ‘ongoing criminal investigation’. Times are changing yes, but not always for the better.

Time to get some positive pants on now and the birthday roll which this week includes our very own reporter Ginny Sanderson, PR man Chris Gape, Ken Waters, Christina Ewbank at the Chamber of Commerce, Linda Skinner at the Castle in Pevensey Bay, Rory O’Niell, the lovely Heather McDonagh and police inspector Rachel Barrow. Happy birthday one and all. And finally many congratulations to Michelle and Owen Radley on the very early arrival of little Joshua weighing in at 5lbs 4ozs.