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As Police & Council respond to Crawley crime spree, why are people still not happy?

Earlier this week we broke the news of the desperation from businesses and staff in Crawley town centre as crime levels were seeing thousands of pounds disappearing and threatening to close stores.

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Following our report the police, council and one of the major high street stores have responded but whilst it is supposed to be reassuring words from all, in-fact to those being affected it is still coming across as just words and not actions.

Read the original report here.

One of the areas covered was the huge amount of goods being stolen on an hourly basis from M&S. A store that only has security randomly through the week, yet crime is soaring every day and staff are feeling unable to act.

Responding to the report an M&S spokesperson said,

“We appreciate the community’s frustrations because, like all retailers, we do experience theft, but our teams are supported to minimise incidents whilst offering customers a great in-store experience.

We are also working closely with other retailers and community representatives, as part of the town partnership scheme, to address the issue and improve the high street.”

M&S were contacted following their response to ask when they may be adding more security into the store but said they had nothing more to add at this moment.

The police responded with Inspector Peter Dommett saying:

“Working with Crawley Business Watch, Crawley Borough Council and outreach partners, we have launched Crawley street community intensification days and these are already showing demonstrable results.

“We are putting out high-visibility uniformed officers to deal with the issues, creating a visual deterrent and offering reassurance to businesses, shoppers and other users of the town centre.

“On Monday (March 18), we arrested four people for separate multiple shoplifting offences and we are also targeting those who are selling on stolen goods. On Wednesday (March 20), our team was once more in action, targeting the top ten most prolific offenders, making three arrests for shoplifting, one who was wanted for shoplifting and one for begging. We also gave warnings to three other beggars who could find themselves in court if they come to our attention again.

“You can keep up with these activities through Sergeant Anthony Cheeseman’s regular updates on his Twitter account – @SussexSgtCC238.

“This activity, involving prevention team police officers and PCSOs, divisional response teams and devoted specialist support from our investigation team, has been made possible by the extra funding provided by the police and crime commissioner’s precept increase.

“Anyone who is arrested as part of this programme is offered help through community justice liaison nurses, including accommodation, but we find that a number of street sleepers are doing so as a lifestyle choice having shunned offers of support.

“Sussex Police and other partners, including the council and social services, meet once a month to discuss those who are living on the streets and look to use innovative ways to get them back into accommodation.

“Several more intensification days have already been programmed in by Chief Inspector Rosie Ross and I would encourage anyone to speak to use about any specific concerns they may have that we might be able to address.

However, the response from the police did little to appease one business owner who said:

“Fantastic news, well done, they should be proud but how does that help us? Look, we understand they are busy and not just sitting around. No-one is blaming them for the crimes and we are certainly not saying they don’t do good work but what they need to understand is that if this is all going on and they are taking all this action then why are we all still suffering and why do we feel they are not around enough? I have one elderly couple who have visited us for years but who now are too afraid to walk across the park. I’m serious. They feel too threatened.”

A shopper from Three Bridges who we approached and discussed the findings responded:

“Why doesn’t the town centre have its own security staff patrolling all the time?”

This all comes after one resident, Mr Benson, responding to our story had already messaged us saying:

“How come they (the police) frequently have enough resource to station a copper at the bottom of Southgate avenue to catch people out speeding but have no interest in crime that is affecting people’s livelyhoods and these criminals will only become more brazen and move on to bigger crimes if left unchecked.”

With so much heated passion about the state of affairs it is clear that more needs to be done publicly and visibly around town so perhaps the response from Crawley Borough Council may give some reassurance to business owners and shoppers:

“We are concerned and sympathetic towards the businesses regarding these issues and we are in discussions with Crawley Police, the Town Centre Partnership and Crawley and Gatwick Business Watch to establish the most effective way forward, part of this includes organising a training session with Crawley Police and other local partners to improve our use of ASB Legislation against those behaving anti-socially and committing crimes, such as theft.

“The £2.2 million Queensway, Pavement and Kingsgate regeneration scheme has already opened up the lines of sight into Memorial Gardens from Queensway and Kingsgate by removing the boundary hedges.  This is to allow for the gardens to be directly overlooked by the shops and street along Kingsgate in order to deter anti-social behaviour and crime.  The scheme also includes measures to address security and safety issues such as installing new CCTV. Our Community Wardens also continue to carry out daily patrols around the town centre.

“The Queens Square regeneration scheme has attracted over £30 million of investment due to a string of retailers and other businesses taking up premises in and around Queens Square, including Decathlon, Metrobank and Iceland.”

Crawley MP Henry Smith commenting on the situation said:

“There should be zero tolerance on crime in Crawley. Sussex Police funding for 2019/20 has been increase by 8.4 per cent; a rise of over £22 million. I welcome the Sussex Police Commissioner’s actions in recruiting 200 new officers, many for Crawley. We now need to see greater deployment on our streets and town centre.”

Whilst it is clear that everyone is taking the situation very seriously it is also very evident that with all good intentions there needs to be substance or the very shops that are suffering will eventually put a stop to it themselves.

Business

Furniture Village opens its doors in Crawley’s County Oak Retail Park

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Crawley welcomes Furniture Village who will open a brand-new store in County Oak retail park this Boxing Day.

The new location offers a Carpetright concession, providing a one-stop-shop for customers looking to update their homes.

Visitors to the new Furniture Village store will be invited to create their ‘home in one’, by exploring collections for every room of the house, from sofas to beds to dining.

Charlie Harrison, Commercial Director at Furniture Village, comments:

“With much of the UK under lockdown, I’m delighted we’ve been able to open our new store in Crawley. County Oak is a fantastic shopping destination and the ideal choice for Furniture Village.

“It’s been a challenging year for everyone, but I am incredibly proud of the Furniture Village team which continues to offer industry-leading quality, choice and service. As well as Family Retailer of the Year, we’ve also been awarded National Bed Retailer of the Year so I’m particularly looking forward to welcoming customers to our new bed department.”

The store will see a team of 11 expert sales consultants offering valuable insights and advice to customers, all made possible thanks to enhanced Covid-19 safety measures.

These include temperature checks, PPE for all staff and hand sanitisation stations, along with an appointment booking system which can be accessed via the website.

Charlie Harrison, Commercial Director at Furniture Village, adds:

“Customer safety is still, and will continue to be, a priority for us. The feedback from all of our existing stores continues to be overwhelmingly positive, with the appointment booking system providing reassurance and exceptional service for customers.”

The store will open at 9am on Saturday 26th December 2020. Opening offers include Sale discounts of up to 50% plus an additional £50 off every £500 spent.

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