An update from our Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne OBE .
Today I chaired a briefing for our Sussex MPs with the Chief Constable and other senior police officers to ensure that our MPs are kept abreast of all developments in the policing of the county during these unprecedented times.
We discussed the policing response to domestic abuse (DA) which is causing concern during lockdown in terms of people being trapped at home with their abuser, whether it be physical, emotional or financial abuse.
MPs were reassured that advice has been updated for officers to give to DA victims to help keep themselves safe during this time, including offering video or telephone appointments to improve accessibility to officers. Also, the '55' technology is in place for those too scared to speak, to alert a call handler to the fact they need help by pressing 55 on their phone once they've dialled 999.
The next step is an external DA campaign targeting people without access to the internet and signposting them where to go for help using banners or posters at supermarkets, medical centres and pharmacies.
I am pleased to know that such effort is going in to supporting victims of DA at what is a stressful time for everybody, let alone those suffering some form of abuse within their own homes.
The #YouAreNotAlone campaign has been launched nationally by the Home Secretary with the aim of reassuring domestic abuse sufferers that support is still available. There is a 24 hour National Domestic Abuse helpline number on 0808 2000 247 and all local support services can be found on www.safespacesussex.org.uk
Sussex Police also gave reassurances today that the Force is currently in a good place where resource and demand are concerned; levels of absenteeism due to sickness and/or self-isolation have actually gone down and there is a good supply of personal protective equipment available to officers.
Over last week's Easter Bank Holiday weekend, the majority of Fixed Penalty Notices were issued to people from outside Sussex travelling into the county. It was confirmed at today's briefing that Sussex Police will continue with their successful approach of explaining and encouraging people to comply with the regulations in force, and only to use enforcement as a last resort.
Overall it was reassuring to hear that Sussex Police are maintaining exceptional levels of normal service at these very challenging times and my heartfelt thanks go out to the officers and staff who are working tirelessly to keep people safe in our county.
Following my news about our 'virtual' consultation across Sussex, I'm now delighted to report that all ten councils we approached have agreed to take part. In the west of the county those are: Bramber, Broadbridge Heath, Haywards Heath, Midhurst and Rustington; in the east we'll be speaking to Battle, Lewes, Peacehaven, Polegate and Uckfield.
These remote meetings will address issues such as local communities' interaction with the Force - particularly important during these current times of lockdown and social distancing - as well as approaches to rural crime and support for local businesses.
I also plan to hold remote consultations with members of the National Farmers Union (NFU) in the next fortnight. The issue of rural crime will be a key focus for me in the coming year and I want to ensure that the farming community feels engaged with and well supported by Sussex Police.
Stay safe and well.
Katy Bourne OBE
Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner