In an interview with the Observer, Chief Inspector of the Chichester district Tanya Jones, talks about rural crime, burglaries, and why the district is a safe place to live.
Chief Inspector Jones manages a team of officers and PCSOs in the district, from Selsey to Midhurst, and looking after a range of settlements means you need a range of priorities.
In Selsey, drugs are being tackled, whereas in the north of the district it’s rural crime such as theft of machinery.
In the city, there has been a spate of burglaries. However, Chief Inspector Jones said arrests have been made.
She said often the police knew who the offenders were in burglaries and it was just a case of catching them out.
“You can recognise what materials they use so you can attribute it to them.
“We get them in the end,” she said.
“The one thing in Chichester with offenders, is it is not necessarily local residents.
“We have people coming in from Surrey and Hampshire.”
But police in neighbouring areas keep each other in the loop so they are aware of the offenders movements – leading to their arrest.
When there is a burglary in a certain area Chief Inspector Jones will increase police presence in that area, often leading the offender to commit crimes in another county.
Because the police authorities ‘share information’ they can track an offender and make the arrest.
Public support was key to tackling theft in rural areas, sad Ch Insp Jones.
“It is in rural areas where we are depending on people phoning in and saying I have just seen a car that was not supposed to be there.
“If that car is still there phone in on the nines, we want to be there.
“The advice for them is just phone in anything which looks suspicious.
“Whether it is a car or people knocking on someone’s front door. I can’t stress enough that we want these calls.”
Having a neighbourhood watch, Chichester Police Facebook page and a Twitter account all help in her aim of ‘getting the message out’.
For example, the team have been big on warning people about locking their vehicles, following numerous incidents where people have had valuables taken from their unlocked cars.
“The most frustrating thing is insecure vehicles or people leaving handbags on show,” she said.
But having a means to warn people, whether it is through neighbourhood watch schemes or social networking sites, helps to get the public aware of what is going on.
She believes these means of communication will certainly help tackle crime, but it will probably never be eliminated.
The trick is to get crime rates as low as possible and keep them there.
But each area goes through different trends when it comes to crime.
“We’re doing a large amount of work in the Selsey area around drug usage and dealing.”
And because of that focus in the town, the police are seeing a drop in drug-related crimes there.
“Everyone is just trying to do their best they can and there is always a reason behind why we have done something,” she said.
One of the most unreported crimes is domestic violence and Sussex Police have been trying to raise awareness of the problem.
“In Chichester last year we had more incidents reported.
It sounds strange but it is a good thing because it means more people are talking about it. I always worry if it starts to go down.”
And if a domestic-violence victim has the courage to call the police, they have several measures to put in place to protect the person, such as trying to get the abuser to court and getting them in touch with someone from victim support.
When asked whether Chichester is perceived as a safe place to live, or whether it actually is, Chief Inspector Jones thinks it is a safe area, but there are certain organisations which help keep it that way.
The City Angels for example, help party goers on Friday and Saturday evening in Chichester city, and she thought the presence of this group will keep more people safe.
She was also excited about the launch of a group called Redeeming Our Communities, on June 5, which will help police to lower crime levels in various ways by ‘community transformation’ and ‘assisting those on the edge of our communities’.
And having a great team behind her also helps.
“I have never worked with such a motivated team of people.
“A lot of them finish late just to get a job done.”
“The PCSO’s are amazing. They work with the community, go to meetings and know people by name.”
Having a ‘face’ of the police force in each community helps make that connection with people.
And that, along with Chief Inspector Jones’ leadership, will hopefully mean Chichester will continue to be a ‘safe place to live’.