CONCERNS about travellers were on the agenda when Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne met Selsey residents.
Ms Bourne made an appearance at the annual town meeting last Wednesday (April 24), where residents were able to ask her questions about policing in the area.
There were concerns about the police response to travellers pitching up on private and public land.
“Travellers are a minority and they have a right to travel. I will defend your rights and I will defend their rights as we live in a democracy,” said Ms Bourne.
“I’ve had lots of emails from parishes, mostly West Sussex where there is an issue.”
She said things were better in East Sussex, as there were allocated sites for travellers.
Because these sites have been identified, police can move travellers on to the allocated sites if they arrive on private and public land.
Ms Bourne also pointed out travellers had to pay to stay on these ‘transit sites’, so were often put off by this.
She said she gets ‘zero’ complaints about travellers from East Sussex residents because ‘the police have it down to a fine art’ with the help of these allocated sites.
“In West Sussex the councils have to identify transit sites. Nobody wants to do it because the first one to do it will say ‘well look, we have got one now,” said Ms Bourne. “Nobody wants it in their back yard.”
“I am putting an enormous amount of pressure on the council to get it sorted.
“If you have got it, it gives the police so much more power. At the moment they are having to police with one hand tied behind their back.”
Ms Bourne urged residents to put pressure on their local council to implement some transit sites in the area.
She also spoke about road safety, domestic abuse and her plan for policing in the future.
She also revealed many police officers and PCSOs would soon be provided with tablets – a portable computer – to free up time they would spend back at the police station filing reports.
There are currently trials of the new tablet system in Lewes, and it is hoped the tablets will eventually be rolled out throughout Sussex.