Sub-Machine Guns, South Street, Chichester

In the season of goodwill to all it is a little disconcerting to see two police officers, each with a sub-machine gun at the ready, patrolling side-by-side on South Street, Chichester.

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I was told yesterday that Sussex Police are increasing its number of armed officers. This is apparently due to the area having a major airport to cover at Gatwick in this time of perpetual terrorism threat and the increasing vigilance needed when investigating drug-dealing firms, who have possession of firearms.

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Sussex (split administratively into West and East) is an area that includes a substantial part of England’s south coast. It has two long-established ports at Shoreham and Newhaven, several marinas and many easy landing spots used for hundreds of years for smuggling, such as Felpham. Sussex also has particular problems within the internationally popular party city of Brighton, with its high demand for recreational drugs and the illicit trade that supplies them.

The coastline of Sussex is also quite heavily urbanised around railway termini linked to London. These towns were established in the Victorian era and initially attracted commercial investment and tourism to the “Coastal Strip”. These seaside conurbations now have complex social problems, including drug abuse. Towns such as Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Eastbourne and Hastings have high concentrations of social deprivation and significant numbers of low income households, high numbers of street homeless and homeless people. These people can become victims of drug dependency and again provide opportunities for criminal business enterprises.

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Under Tory enforced Austerity policies crime in the UK has become more difficult to address. However, seeing armed police officers on the streets is far from reassuring.

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Large scale crime is organised, financed and profited from by people who are unlikely to be running around with guns in the tiny cathedral city of Chichester. More resources are needed to investigate illegal revenue sources, where the earnings are banked and by whom. I would like to know that more police officers who can read company accounts and understand digital financial movements have been deployed to help identify the management of crime syndicates and the lawyers and bankers who work with them.

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Placing armed response police officers into wealthy shopping centres at Christmas is driven by a need to be able to react immediately to acts of terrorism as and when they occur.

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However, it does seems a bit of a lottery about where to locate these teams and when. However, it is a very public gesture and I totally respect the men and women who are employed in these roles. The increased distribution and possession of guns in the UK is something that has to be acknowledged and these officers are needed to be able to deal with this issue.

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n.n.b. 24 hours later this happened…in Hull.

CLP 15/12/2019

At the Rutland Arms

They came from afar

Uncertain of what to say

Their loss, our future

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n.b. We gathered to pay respects to one of our own, a fellow Pompey supporter to some, a close friend to a few. We did not know how to do this, but wanted to be together at this time, the first available home game.

We met at a pub close to Fratton Park and talked of Martin and touched philosophically on the inevitable.

After a few simple words in memory of this lovely man, we raised our glasses and expressed gratitude for having known him.

We then went to the game. It was 0-0.

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CLP 12/10/2019