As a time for coming together, Christmas is perhaps also a time to think about how we can all work together, all year round.
One of the four objectives in my Police and Crime Plan is to work with local communities and partners to keep Sussex safe. This means encouraging local communities to prevent crime and disorder, through funding our 12 Sussex Community Safety Partnerships with over £1.4m per year as well as supporting local organisations with my Community Safety Fund.
It also means working with partners to reduce offending and reoffending - and the business community has a vital part to play in this.
In September, I hosted a crime summit in Hastings for more than 100 people to focus on the work being done behind-the-scenes to tackle anti-social behaviour.
The audience at the Listen Live: Partners Together event, including local business owners, Hastings Youth Council members, not-for-profit organisations and residents, heard that the town had plenty to celebrate with its partnership work to fight the problem – but that more needed to be done.
Members of the public have told me time and again that anti-social behaviour is their greatest concern by a considerable amount. It is clearly one of the issues that matters most to people which is why the summit was an opportunity to help us reflect on what has worked and find ways for the public, businesses and police to work better together.
We all need to be smarter with the funding that we have. As a commissioner of services for Sussex residents, I am using public money so we need to make sure that we spend it effectively.
Sussex is leading the way with new community and business wardens, boosting the resources available to deter and disrupt those that seek to commit crime. Since 2015, our county has seen business and community wardens successfully introduced in Eastbourne, Hastings, Littlehampton, Bognor Regis and Haywards Heath.
The pressures of setting up and maintaining a business are hard enough without having to worry about crime and diverting precious time and resources to report incidents, package evidence and deal with complex and bureaucratic insurance claims. Because wardens are trained to secure the best physical evidence and take statements, they are helping businesses save time and reducing demands on police. They are also able to provide services beyond security like first aid, counter-terror awareness and emergency planning.
Our wardens know their area and are linked with the local community safety agencies, with offender management units and Sussex Police, and they are dedicated to the business community in their patch.
Further collaboration has been developed in Brighton and Hove with community guards deployed in July alongside the current Business Improvement District ambassadors.
There is clear evidence that they are playing a vital role in reducing crime and disorder in our town centres and I have been pleased to be able to both provide funding and co-ordinate private sector investment in expanding the numbers of wardens.
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If you’ve been a victim of crime you can access local support services at
www.safespacesussex.org.uk, even if you haven’t reported a crime to the police.