Recent anti-social behaviour in Burgess Hill has got so bad that some children have been left needing counselling, Mid Sussex District Council has been told.
The behaviour was branded ‘horrendous’ and ‘totally unacceptable’ by Pru Moore (Con, Burgess Hill – Leylands) during a discussion about the ongoing upgrading and replacement of CCTV cameras across the district on Wednesday night.
Cherry Catharine (Con, Burgess Hill – Leylands) added: “We’ve got kids that desperately need counselling now due to the bullying and the waiting list is months.”
Mrs Moore told the meeting: “For the last three months, Burgess Hill has been plagued with horrendous anti-social behaviour – totally unacceptable.
“I’ve got children – and I don’t use this word lightly – absolutely terrified. And today, yet again, one of the mothers was very severely intimidated.
“It is not stopping. Somehow or another, we are not able to get on top of it. It is getting beyond a joke now.”
Norman Webster, cabinet member for community, told the meeting that he had had ‘several conversations’ with Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne about the problem and that there were ‘one or two ringleaders’ involved.
He said: “What we do not want is for the entire community of Burgess Hill to be held to ransom by one or two out of control youths.
“Because unfortunately that is the situation. I am very aware of it and I am receiving regular updates.”
When it came to the need for counselling, Mr Webster said the town’s 20 police schools officers would have to work with schools to address the needs of the children.
Updating members on the CCTV project, Mr Webster said installation would start on November 12 in Haywards Heath, with 22 cameras due to be installed and working by the end of December.
A further five would be installed at new sites by the end of April 2019.
The new sites are: St John’s Park, Burgess Hill; Victoria Park, Haywards Heath; George’s Field, East Grinstead, Clair Park, Haywards Heath, and Holtye Avenue, East Grinstead.
A spokesman for Mrs Bourne said she ‘continues to challenge’ the chief constable about anti-social behaviour, adding that a series of focus groups were being held across Sussex where members of the public could discuss issues in detail.
The Burgess Hill group will be held on December 10.
For details visit the Police and Crime Commissioner’s website.
Inspector Pete Dommett said the problems were not gang violence and that police were working in partnership with the council to deal with the situation.
He added: “This sort of behaviour involving young children can only be resolved through combined efforts of the local authority, social services, parents, and police where appropriate.
“Whilst we agree that the misconduct of a small number of people can cause a disproportionate effect in the community, often we find that many alleged events are reported on social media but are not reported to the police.
“We urge residents with concerns to report them to us, and be prepared to make statements that can support partnership action or enforcement.”