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    • Wealden weekly news 30/7/20

    • Analysis of Coronavirus fines in Sussex published in national report

      Independent analysis of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) issued by police under the Coronavirus (Covid-19) regulations shows a low overall rate in fines issued nationally with young men receiving the biggest proportion.  

      It also shows black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) people were issued with an FPN at a rate 1.6 times higher than white people. 

      The independent report, by the Governmental Statistical Service and commissioned by national policing bodies, shows the majority of fines were issued in Sussex during the peak of lockdown when infection and mortality rates across the UK were high and people were being urged to ‘stay indoors, protect the NHS, save lives’. 

      In line with national guidance, fines were issued as a last resort and only after officers and PSCOs had engaged, explained and encouraged members of the public to comply with the health regulations. 

      Sussex was one of a number of forces which saw a relatively high number of non-residents issued with fines, people who had travelled from London, to visit the county’s coastal and beauty spots. 

      In total, 848 fines were issued in Sussex between 27 March and 25 May - equivalent to fivein 10,000 of the population. This is equivalent to 4.1 people per 10,000 of the resident population. 

      More than half of these fines (466 or 55%) were to non-Sussex residents who had travelled from London and the home-counties, and some as far away as Exeter, Somerset and Nottingham, to enjoy day-trips, in particular at Brighton Beach and Camber Sands. 

      The relatively high disparity in ethnicity data can be partly explained in the different between fines issued to residents and non-residents which showed: 

      382 fines were issued to residents in Sussex and of those 320 (83.8%) were issued to white people, with 59 (15.4%) issued to people identifying as black, Asian or other minority ethnic and 3 (0.79%) unknown.

      466 fines were issued to non-residents and of these, 329 (70%) were issued to white people, with 128 (27%) issued to those from a black, Asian or other minority ethnic background.

      Temporary Deputy Chief Constable (T/DCC) Julia Chapman said: “In Sussex we have always taken pride in our strong, community-based relationships, working hard to gain the trust and confidence of the public. 

      “Throughout this pandemic, and in line with national guidance, our officers and PCSOs worked to encourage people to comply with the new health regulations and used enforcement only as a last resort. 

      “The data shows that the vast majority of fines issued in Sussex, although relatively low overall, were during the peak of the lockdown period when people travelling into the county, many from urban areas, would have been fully aware that it was prohibited. 

      “The report also notes that those forces with rural and coastal areas, like Sussex, tended to issue higher proportions of fines to non-residents and this is relevant when assessing disparity rates since we know that the BAME population tend to be disproportionately concentrated in metropolitan areas. 

      “Nevertheless, it does show disparity across gender, age and ethnicity that cannot be fully accounted for and we are particularly conscious of, and sensitive to, the concerns around racism or bias in policing globally.

      “We have shared and discussed this information with our independent race advisory group and will further scrutinise this data with them, and other independent community representatives, with a commitment to take action around any learning and ensuring our local communities can be confident that our policing approach is fair.” 

      The full report Independent analysis of Fixed Penalty Notices is available to view here.

      Police crackdown on speeding and antisocial driving in East Sussex

      More than 60 tickets were issued to motorists during a crackdown on speeding and antisocial driving in East Sussex.

      Roads policing officers worked in conjunction with divisional officers and Sussex Safer Roads Partnership – which provided camera safety vans – for the day of action in Rye on Sunday 19 July.

      PC Stuart Ball said: “We have listened to the community and acted upon their concerns regarding speeding and antisocial driving in the Rye area. The operation was all about providing education and enforcement, and we are grateful for the positive feedback we have received. 

      “While the vast majority of motorists are safe and competent drivers, there will always be a minority who put the lives of themselves and others at risk through their actions.
      “It is our duty to keep everyone safe on our roads, and to deal robustly with those who compromise this.”

      The Sussex Roads Policing Unit will continue to provide proactive patrols to combat speeding and antisocial driving across the county. In recent weeks, this has included static checks on parts of the A259, the A29 and the A272, among other routes.

      PC Ball added: “A large number of the tickets issued on Sunday were for vehicles with modified number plates. We cannot stress enough that you could be fined up to £1,000 and your vehicle will fail its MOT if you drive with incorrectly displayed plates.”

      You can find out more about displaying vehicle registration plates here.

      You can report incidents of dangerous of antisocial driving on the Operation Crackdown website.


      Sussex Police leading the way on Stalking Protection Orders

      Police in Sussex have been leading the way in enforcing a new law aimed at helping victims of stalking.

      Stalking Protection Orders (SPO’s) came into effect on 20 January and Sussex, which was the first force the country to obtain an order that day, has now secured 23 in the first six months, as an additional tool in responding to reports of stalking.

      The response from victims has been positive. One has told the police;

      "Getting an SPO has help me hugely to make sense of what is going on for me and has given me hope that the system will work, thank you to all those supporting me, a burden shared has certainly being a burden halved. it is really reassuring that something is in place that protects me and my family."

      Another has said; "I have tried many times to end this relationship but did not think it was possible or that I was worth any better. This time the police really believed me and helped me to stay strong and safe, The SPO has given me a much-needed respite and finally the attention is on him. "

      Detective Chief Inspector Mick Richards of the force's Public Protection Command, said; "These new Orders, which we seek from Magistrates, are an important development in helping us to better protect victims or anyone connected with them, in stalking cases.

      "For example, subjects will be prohibited from contacting, by any means, directly or indirectly, the named person on the Order. This includes but is not limited to contact in person, calls, letters, emails, messages and social media.

      "They can also be prohibited from publishing any material, or making reference to any material already published, which references, refers or relates to the victim either directly or indirectly.

      They can also be prohibited from entering into an agreed exclusion zone, be that an area within the town or county. This would include where the victim works, usual routes taken for example, walking children to school.

      Some of the positive requirements include allowing officers access to the home address for the purposes of conducting risk assessments, having to re-register their home address every year, or if of no fixed address, having to attend a police station every week.

      There are further conditions that can be considered depending on the nature of the stalking behaviour.

      However an Order is not an alternative to prosecution for stalking offences under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, and it can be used to strengthen prosecutions as well as safeguarding victims.

      Any breach of an Order is itself a criminal offence punishable by Magistrates by up to 12 months or a fine or both, or at Crown Court with imprisonment for up to five years or a fine or both.

      Mick Richards adds: "This new resource really helps us to protect victims. In Sussex we are already recording the second highest number of stalking reports anywhere in the UK outside London, and are now advising and supporting more victims than ever.

      "With better awareness and enhanced training our approach is more robust in keeping people safe and feeling safe. We encourage victims to come forward with the knowledge that our officers and staff are better trained and that they take all reports seriously.

      "We are absolutely aware of the consequences if our response is not the correct one, so we want to ensure that victims have confidence in how both police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will support them.

      "There is clearly an increased awareness and identification in society generally of stalking behaviour and that too helps us to provide early intervention and provide safeguarding to those in need.

      "The force has independent advice on our response to stalking and harassment, from partners such as Veritas Justice, and this has improved our understanding of stalking as well as its impact on victims. We regularly review our response to ensure we have taken the right action and to identify learning for our staff."

      Officers and staff complete online mandatory stalking and harassment training so they can provide the right response and keep people safe and further specialised training is being delivered.

      Katy Bourne, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner said; "Stalking is an insidious crime that gradually takes over and ruins lives, and perpetrators must be reprimanded.

      “The SPOs have allowed officers to take swift and decisive action, putting restrictions in place and enforcing breaches, treating them as criminal offences.

      "Sussex Police has been the leading light in putting this new piece of legislation into practice incredibly quickly and have safeguarded many victims already.

      “Officer’s readiness to take action in this way is having a hugely positive effect on the confidence people have in coming forward, knowing that in Sussex we take stalking incredibly seriously.”

      If you are being stalked or harassed it is important that you report it. Stalkers are fixated and obsessive offenders who will not stop.

      You can report stalking or harassment online or by calling 101 or in person at your local police station.

      But always call 999 if you are in danger. Officers and staff will undertake a risk assessment and focus on keeping you safe.

      If you would like further information about stalking or harassment, there are several organisations that specialise in providing advice and support to victims.

      Veritas Justice is a local Sussex organisation which provides advocacy and support for victims of stalking.

      The National Stalking Helpline provides advice and guidance to current or previous victims of stalking or harassment. The helpline can be contacted on 0808 802 0300.

      Further information and advice is also available on the Sussex Police website.


      Crime summary

      A burglary occurred on Lake Street, Hellingly, between 27/06/2020 – 22/07/2020 whereby a caravan was broken into, fortunately no items were stolen from within (Ref: 47200122556)

      A burglary occurred on Beaconsfield Road, Haywards Heath, on 23/07/2020 whereby a residential property was broken into and various items were stolen from within (Ref: 47200123498)

      A burglary occurred on Best Beech Hill, Wadhurst, on 27/07/2020, whereby a residential property was entered and various tools were stolen from within (Ref: 47200125596)

      A burglary occurred on Vicarage Lane, Hellingly, between 26/07/2020 – 27/07/2020 whereby an outbuilding was broken into and various copper piping was stolen from within (Ref: 47200125786)