Ways of supporting Sussex Police in tackling anti-social behaviour in Uckfield are to be explored by Uckfield Town Council.
Two suggestions are to be investigated by the clerk, Holly Goring.
- Public space protection orders (PSPOs); and
- Employing a warden in conjunction with another parish or parishes.
The debate at last night’s (June 24) meeting of the full council was sparked by mayor, Cllr Spike Mayhew, who suggested security patrols – something which did not find much favour with councillors – and considering PSPOs.
The town council’s move follows many complaints from residents about anti-social behaviour in the town, which have sparked two public meetings with Sussex Police which has a strategy to deal with the problems.
In a written report, Cllr Mayhew told fellow councillors public space protection orders and security patrols had been implemented elsewhere.
“Both depend on the nature of the incidents occurring and the physical layout and geography of a space,” his report said.
“Larger towns and cities have looked into introducing public space protection orders, such as Barnsley, Lewes and Poole.
“A parish council in Somerset said that employing private security to tackle anti-social behaviour had made ‘a marked difference’.
“Martock Parish Council had used Atlas UK Security Services since April  in a bid to combat ‘threats of violence, late-night noise and loud music.
“Council chairman Neil Bloomfield said the extra patrols are continuing after having a positive effect.”
Uckfield Town Council
At last night’s meeting of Uckfield Town Council there was a wide-ranging debate over the merits of Cllr Mayhew’s proposal.
It was agreed the council should investigate Public Space Protection Orders (see below for an explanation of what they are) and look again at a warden, shared with another local council.
Here is a flavour of the debate.
Cllr Helen Firth said the council should push for full-time PCSOs in Uckfield, noting that they had solved problems in the past.
Cllr Gary Johnson wondered why Sussex Police was not looking for more special constables to help boost numbers.
Youth member Ashley Brunsdon said employing a private company to do the job of a PCSO was sending the wrong message to the police.
Cllr Chris Macve said the issue with the council picking up the cost of security patrols was: “Are we going to get out of it at any point in the future or are the higher authorities going to consider that we will carry on paying for it ourselves and divert their funds elsewhere?” He added: “Something needs to be done and it is the police’s job to do it.”
Sussex Police plan
Cllr Angie Smith said she was satisfied with the plan Sussex Police had in place to deal with the problems of anti-social behaviour in the town. She said police numbers were still under pressure.
Youth member Lewis Westwood Flood was worried about the costs of security patrols and the town council being seen as an authoritarian body.
Cllr Karen Bedwell said she felt there could be a role for both the police and a warden. “It is not them or us,” she said.
People in fear
Later in the debate, she questioned the cost of doing nothing.
“How much cost can you put on fear in Uckfield. It is building. Fear breeds fear.
“I am not sure we can set it aside and hope it goes away.”There is a shortage of police, we cannot help that; it is a government thing,” she said.
The problem in Uckfield, she said, was with a very small group of bullish teenagers who were taking control of this town, in one way or another.
“We have to be careful in judging what we are spending our money on.”
The council adopted a proposal from Cllr Donna French for the council to look into public space protection orders, and where they could be applied in Uckfield, plus to reconsider the possibility of sharing a warden with another parish.
What is a public space protection order?
The power to impose public space protection orders (PSPOs) was created in 2014.
Councils can use PSPOs to prohibit specified activities, and/or require certain things to be done by people engaged in particular activities, within a defined public area, says the Local Government Association.
An order can last for three years after which it can be renewed, if necessary.
Where is Martock?
It is seven miles northwest of Yeovil on the edge of the Somerset Levels – about half-an-hour from Glastonbury. It has a population of about 5,000.
How much is it costing Martock?
A BBC report, published last July , said Martock Parish Council had used Atlas UK since the April and had spent about £1,000 for two nightly patrols over four nights a week.
What does Atlas provide?
The BBC report said the security staff wore body cameras to deter anti-social behaviour.
Atlas says on its website:
“We provide fully uniformed guards and marked patrol vehicles who are able to cover a multitude of tasks.”
What did Somerset Police say?
The BBC reported Insp Tim Coombe as saying they had been consulted by councillors but believed there was already a “proportionate policing plan” in place.
He added: “We haven’t supported the wider use of security guards in Martock as we didn’t feel the level of anti-social behaviour in the village warranted this.”
Find local businesses in our Uckfield Directory