District Dispatch - 9 August 2023
Making sure that our residents feel safe is a top priority for the council and its partners.
Although the district is a safe place, all areas experience issues of crime and disorder to some extent and so we all need to take proactive steps to ensure our area continues to be a safe place to live, work and visit. This is why we have a Community Safety Partnership, which closely monitors crime rates, anti-social behaviour issues and community tensions, so that we can quickly provide a multi-agency response and put solutions in place.
Our partners include Sussex Police, West Sussex County Council, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Western Sussex Primary Care Trust, West Sussex Drug and Alcohol Action Team, and Sussex and Surrey Probation Service. Collectively, we deliver projects that aim to make a positive difference within our communities.
At the last meeting we had, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service highlighted the importance of people regularly checking their fire alarms - and the batteries within them. There are lots of different types of smoke alarms - some even have ten-year batteries - but it is vital that all of them are regularly checked. You are four times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there is no working smoke alarm and so this action is so important. We are also urging people to support vulnerable family, friends and neighbours by making sure that their smoke alarms are checked too. You literally could be saving their life through this two-minute check. West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service have also been training Age UK to assist vulnerable people too.
The Community Safety Partnership is also organising a day of action on 15 August near Fishbourne Road East and the underpass, starting at 10am. The aim is to encourage the community to get involved in a general clean-up of the area. This will include fun activities from Everyone Active, partner organisations and the council's health and wellbeing team at Westbourne House.
The partnership also heard about how vulnerable people across the Chichester District are also receiving better protection from scams, thanks to the work of our community wardens, who have been leading awareness sessions to help people spot the signs of scams. The information provided covers a range of issues and advice, such as discussing the most prevalent scams. They come in a variety of forms, including courier scams; financial and investment scams; and romance fraud on dating apps and websites.
Scams are a huge issue. One of our community wardens assisted a man in his 80s who was at risk of losing £3,000 to a rogue trader. The builder had attended the gentleman's property advising that there was an issue with his roof, and that it would cost £4,000 to fix. He said he would need to return the next day with a ladder for closer inspection, He ended up removing around 60 tiles and told the gentleman that the repairs would cost £30,000. The homeowner didn't have the money, and so the builder said that he would do the work if he was paid £3,000 immediately. The gentleman agreed and gave the builder a cheque. Thankfully, a neighbour saw what had happened and contacted one of our community wardens, who not only made Sussex Police aware, but they also accompanied the gentleman to the bank where he spoke to the fraud department where they stopped the cheque.
There are lots of places where you can access help and advice. The Trading Standards 'Buy with Confidence' scheme is worth visiting. You can also visit Get Safe Online 'Check a Website' which provides lots of advice to help residents protect themselves. Citizens Advice also have a useful online tool at Citizens Advice - check if something might be scam that is well worth using.
Cllr Tracie Bangert
Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing at Chichester District Council