The arrest and removal of illegal Eastern European immigrants has resulted in a drop in Chichester city-centre crime, district councillors were told.
Chief Inspector Rachel Bacon told the district’s overview and scrutiny committee that 12 Eastern European men, all aged between 25 and 50, were identified in the city centre who had no right to be in the country. Nine have so far been deported, with three more on their way shortly.
The Observer understands the immigrants were predominantly homeless and that there have been fewer complaints of shoplifting from city shops since the arrests.
The arrests resulted not only in a reduction in city-centre crime, but also freed up police officers to do other things, police said.
“A lot of time was involved in dealing with these individuals,” Chief Inspector Bacon added.
She said the success of the operation, which involved the police, UK Borders Agency and the district council, was down to the standard of partnership it involved.
The illegal immigrants removed from Chichester were from Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Latvia.
Answering questions from councillors, she said CCTV cameras were an invaluable tool for the police in reducing crime – both because people could see it was there, and also for providing evidence.
“Within the city, we use it on a daily basis in both of these ways,” she said.
CCTV was a particular use in the night-time economy, and had a real value.
“We think it contributes to having a higher ‘solve rate’ for crimes in the city,” she explained.
PC Jimmy Upton of Chichester Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “We will always support our partner agencies when there is evidence that offences are being committed in Sussex. Chichester, like many cities throughout the UK, has a diverse community most of whom are law-abiding and have greatly contributed to the local economy.”
The committee was told overall crime rate in the Chichester district during 2011-2012 was down by 4.8 per cent, compared with a three per cent target. There had been a 27 per cent reduction over five years.
Chief Inspector Bacon said there was a particularly strong performance in dealing with criminal damage offences, but not a good performance as far as domestic burglary was concerned. Acquisitive crime was the most challenging for the police, and currently one could say it was linked to the economy.