Brighton & Hove

July 2021

I write in the aftermath of the European Football Championship and England’s defeat in the final.

On the field, the championship was great and England did better than at any time since 1966. But the appalling racism and vile abuse suffered by black members of the team is a timely (and somewhat depressing) reminder of how far British society still has to go and how much work we all still need to do to.

As part of our commitment to make Brighton & Hove a truly “Anti-Racist city” I have pledged a contribution from Sussex Police to the City Council’s civic leadership programme and I am looking forward to seeing how Sussex Police can work with partners and candidates to improve the diversity of civic life in the city.

Sussex Police has a long way to go to ensure that we are representative of the communities we serve, but our Chief Constable Jo Shiner has made this one of her key priorities. It is worth noting that in the last 12 months our recruitment of new officers and staff has been at 11% black and other minority ethnic people, against a population in Sussex of 6.5%. This is progress, but we need to keep that progress going every year.

2021 continues as a year of protest in Brighton & Hove and Sussex Police always seeks to police demonstrations in a proportionate manner and in a way which balances the rights of all sections of the community. This is not an easy balance, especially when you throw in Covid regulations and laws. We accept that whatever we do, there will be sections of society who don’t feel we get the balance right. I can report that despite protests taking place virtually every week since late March, we have made no more than a handful of arrests in total, despite severe provocation at times and the organisers seemingly being more unwilling to engage with police beforehand to agree safe marching routes for example, which would improve safety and lessen disruption for other communities and members of the public.

The demand for policing in the city is now back at pre-pandemic levels and crime levels are also close to previous numbers. We continue to work hard to reduce burglary, robbery and county line drug crime (often involving knives)  in the city and we work very closely with BHCC and other partners in the Violence Reduction Partnership. There is a role for robust and proactive policing in these initiative, but also for crime reduction initiatives, education and effective treatment programmes for those with drug addictions.

Domestic abuse occurs in the city and every day we make significant numbers of arrests for stalking and domestic abuse cases, with the aim of gathering evidence to take cases to court and support survivors of this type of very serious abuse. This remains a challenge, but one where we are determined to improve our response.

We are of course making preparations for next Monday, 19 July and the relaxation of Covid regulations and there will be challenges with the night time economy to ensure the city remains safe for everyone to use. My licencing team works effectively with the BHCC licencing team and venues themselves to keep people safe and I am confident this approach will be successful.

Finally, a  personal plea from me.  Please encourage your contacts and communities to take a moment to appreciate your local police officers and PCSOs and when you are aware of good outcomes and good work, that you acknowledge that good work.

Those on the front line are ordinary people; hard-working public servants who put themselves at significant risk every single day and who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic to protect the vulnerable, catch and convict criminals and to deliver an outstanding service.

As a resident of the city, I remain extremely proud to lead a mainly young front line workforce in their 20s, who work 24/7 to keep Brighton and Hove a safe place to live, work and visit.

Best regards,

Chief Superintendent Nick May, Divisional Commander for Brighton & Hove

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