Concerns with the police presence and the 101 system, used to report crimes in the community, have been raised at a Chichester council meeting.
In her ward report at Wednesday evening’s city council meeting, west ward councillor Clare Apel spoke about her ‘real concern’ with drugs in the city, which she feels is getting ‘worse and worse’ due to police cutbacks.
She said: “Like the whole city, we have got problems on the west ward with drugs.
“The money given to the community by the council is so important because of the little police presence. To say it is thin is an understatement.
“The drug scene is getting worse and worse. It is affecting young people and it is a real concern.”
Speaking to the Observer, she added that drugs are a ‘big problem’ all over the UK, and claimed everyone can see it, ‘unless they are completely blind’.
At the meeting, cllr Apel put forward her belief that a chief inspector should speak to the council about what plans the police have to deal with the growing problem- which she also puts down to the ‘absurd’ 101 system.
She added: “I just feel we need the police here to tell us what is happening.
“They talk about county boundaries and the big gangs that come down from London but they don’t realise the effect it is having on communities and it is really serious.
“The council should have a chief inspector down here to talk about it. Because of the cutbacks, they just don’t seem to be as effective.
“101 is a complete waste of time. I’ve tried twice, waited 45 minutes and lost the will to live.
“In one case in my ward, they promised a chap they would come in an hour but didn’t come for two weeks.
“It’s absurd, it is really bad and I feel very strongly about it.”
Fellow west ward councillor and mayor Martyn Bell took on board cllr Apel’s comments saying that he will ‘pursue’ getting a police officer to speak to the council.
He added: “This concern is something we’ve discussed in depth over the last few weeks and at the community affairs committee, we had a presentation on it.
“The community wardens are doing a great job for us and thank goodness for that. In terms of taking this forward to the full council, I’ll have to discuss this with the clerk.”
Adding to the drug and police debate, Simon Oakley, who serves the West Sussex County council as member for Chichester east division, pointed out that police are helpless without the support of the community in building an ‘intelligence picture’.
He said: “In regards to the drug problem in the city, what I would really say to all councillors, for yourselves and your residents, is to report drug related activity you have seen online.
“It is common knowledge that the telephone 101 system is too long.
“The police really need us to build up an intelligence picture for them to use their resources appropriately to deal with this problem.
“If the authorities are not made aware of considerable issues online by actual reports, they will not go around looking for the issues.
“They need that dependence on councillors and that community concern and reporting to be able to prioritise their resources to significant issues.
“Do not assume it will automatically be flagged up a central control centre. You see it, please report it. Do not assume someone else will do it for you.”
Do you agree that drugs are a ‘real concern’ in Chichester and is 101 a failing system?
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