The Littlehampton Gazette’s headline – “Police are not running this town – gangs are” is complete rubbish and nothing more than scaremongering.
Negative headlines sell newspapers and let’s be brutally honest here, the Littlehampton Gazette needs all the help it can to sell what is little more than a weekly advertorial rather than a readable, quality newspaper. The Press Gazette latest circulation figures for the Littlehampton Gazette, shows sales plummeting by -7.9% on the previous year with circulation now at a paltry 8,988. Drastic times lead to desperate measures with the closure of the Gazette’s Littlehampton offices and a culling of the paper’s reporters.
The Gazette reporter who wrote this story doesn’t live in Littlehampton and could hardly be considered to know what’s really is going on here. Last week he attended the annual Littlehampton Town Council public meeting. I’ve mixed views on the benefits of this type of public meeting as invariably it’s little more than an opportunity for the public to vent at the local authorities, particularly the police.
When a number of years ago I attended the annual town council meeting, I came away wondering what the point of Littlehampton town council is, and indeed, still do. The meeting was dominated by a few vocal locals who complained about cycling on pavements and lack of police action in tackling this supposedly huge and dangerous problem. I left the meeting thinking if all you have to worry about is kids cycling on pavements, how lucky we are to have none of the real crime problems that plague other areas.
In any event, this year’s annual meeting led to one local business owner describing how 12 and 13-year-olds had run through his cafe and threw eggs and he’d witnessed drug dealing outside his business. He concluded by telling the police chief inspector present at the meeting, that in his view ‘the police are not running this town, but gangs are.’
Cue Littlehampton Gazette, who used this quote as their paper’s front page screaming headline.
While I have sympathy with the business owner’s frustrations and do agree that Littlehampton currently has a small number of youths who are acting in a threatening and anti-social way, we’re still a long way from the sort of youth gang culture that is destroying other local towns and particularly evident in areas of London.
Personally, I think it’s highly irresponsible of the Littlehampton Gazette to lead with such a negative, scaremongering headline, which I know has already put people off visiting the town centre.
We need to keep things in perspective.
Littlehampton needs a return to high visible proactive policing, which contrary to claims made by Police Commissioner Ms Katy Bourne and Sussex Police’s Chief Constable Giles York who describe bobbies on the beat as being an outdated policing method, bobbies on the beat do work.
The public is always reassured by high visible policing on our streets, which prevents anti-social behaviour. No app or twitter feed or social media platform can take away the important work done by bobbies on the beat.
But please, let’s not elevate these gobby little idiots to the undeserved status of gang leaders. Most of them would wet their nappies if someone were to shout back at them, as I’ve done on occasions when they have created a nuisance in and outside my shop.
Whatever the Gazette would like you to believe, Littlehampton remains a safe, welcoming town with the many hard-working, proud people who make our area such a great place to live.
Nothing better proves my point more than a picture of Littlehampton’s War Memorial above, which is lovingly attended to by the council’s contractors and demonstrates all this positive and wonderful about Littlehampton. Surely if gangs were ruling our town this amazing floral display would be impossible?
While we need to keep pressure on local police management to ensure we get the support from our police and local authorities to ensure that good and hard work of many is not undermined and destroyed by the few, lets not fall victim to the lousy scaremongering tactics of a newspaper who cut and ran from Littlehampton when their sales declined.
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