LETTER: I see more police in Spain

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Alison Cushing (Herald , March 20) raises an important issue about the police and I consider their priorities are completely wrong. Surely the one thing the public expect of the police is that it is visible. My experience living in Eastbourne is policing is largely absent from the streets. I recently had a holiday in a seaside town in southern Spain, of comparable size to Eastbourne. In the busy town centre in a country whose economy has been hit harder than in the UK, I saw more policemen on the streets in a hour than I have in four years in Eastbourne. Surely a police presence is required to deter anti-social behaviour and other crime such as shop lifting, and to re-assure the public and shop owners? The Spanish have certainly got visible policing. In the UK we have no-one available; the thin blue line has got thinner, except if you are a lost seal where a posse of least 10 officers from Cheshire and Merseyside police turned up to help the RSPCA and fire service in a recent rescue.

Equally worrying is the propensity for the police to prosecute people for thought crime and expressing politically incorrect views that do not remotely incite hate or violence, warning children for so called “criminal damage” such as conkering or chalking pavements and charging those who defend their homes and property. The police have a perverted mind set where too often the victim is treated as a criminal and the criminal as a victim. They focus on easy targets and recently pursued journalists for having the temerity to expose wrongdoing in public office. The alleged offences in a recent case were payments to civil servants for information, no different to the police paying informants. Thankfully the jury in the trial of four Sun journalists found them not guilty and thereby helped protect one of this country’s greatest institutions, a free press.

As a middle aged person my previous respect for the police as an institution has gone. I no longer trust their crime statistics and I abhor the propensity to issue cautions to violent criminals and the target culture of the police. Until they show they are on the side of the law-abiding majority, tackle real crime and the fear of crime such as burglary, shop lifting, violence, street robbery and anti-social behaviour, rather than prosecute non crimes, they are destined to remain out of touch. I do have sympathy for rank and file officers in Sussex who no doubt are trying to do an excellent job in difficult circumstances, but they are hamstrung by an inept leadership and their political masters, more concerned about budgets, targets, form filling and political correctness.

Mike Grant

Caroline Way