Research by Sussex Police suggests that typically Halloween is one of the busiest nights of the year for anti-social behaviour.
To combat this Horsham police officers were out in force last Friday night, October 31, joined by County Times reporter James Oxenham.
Whether you agree with the stereotype or not about the ‘youth of today’ a night of costumes, sweets and trick or treats has been shown to bring out the worst in some young people .
Mix that with the final day of half term and add in some Friday night drinking, and it is not a big surprise that police are extra cautious on this of all nights. That’s why Horsham police organised Operation ‘Davos’ which saw almost every officer in the district out and about tackling the problem of anti-social behaviour in the area.
The evening did not disappoint with drug searches, vandalism and even a quick car chase. Within five minutes of entering the police van we receive our first call.
Reports that someone has threatened to set fire to a car in Blackbridge Lane echo through the radio as the van rushes across town. When we arrive there is no one to be seen and the car is still intact.
Next stop is a patrol through the town centre. As we wander down the High Street PC Natalie Stoner explains what the evening is about. PC Stoner said:“We are not about ruining people’s fun, it is about helping people and keeping the public safe.”
Special Constable Heather Gibbons agreed. She said: “It is about helping people rather than punishing people. I really enjoy it.”
As we are patrolling PC Stoner detects echoes coming from a nearby stairwell in the Forum Car Park, in Blackhorse Way.
We stumble across three teenagers who are sitting at the top of the stairs and there is a distinct smell of cannabis.
Two 16-year-old girls and a 15-year-old boy are searched on suspicion of possession of drugs but nothing is found.
The radio buzzes excitedly again as reports come through that a group of young people have run away from police after throwing eggs at shop windows in the Bishopric.
We catch up with some of them in the town centre where we are told the perpetrators have run off and all the eggs have been ditched.
It is not just myself that has been invited along for the evening. We are joined by community youth workers and the community safety manager at Horsham’s Community Safety Partnership, Greg Charman. PC Jon Walker explains for the team the night is not just about combating anti-social behaviour. He said: “Nights like this one are good because it pulls everyone we work with throughout the year together.”
PC Walker is hastily interrupted as he spots a car driving with no lights. He flicks on the blue lights as we pursue the vehicle down North Parade and the child within me can’t help but get a little bit excited, even if it is only a 300m chase.
The car is pulled over but only to find that it is a learner out for a lesson and the parents apologise for the error.
The night ends with reports that an intoxicated man is shouting racist abuse at a neighbour. We arrive at a property in Broadbridge Heath and after a conversation with the neighbour the man is arrested for an ongoing racially aggravated public order offence.