Visibility,Accessibility And Familiarity

Rother Police District Commander, Chief Inspector Bruce Mathews, told a 150 strong meeting at Rye Community Centre that “visibility, accessibility and familiarity” are the new watchwords for the police.

Rye people, thoroughly fed up with crime and vandalism in the town, turned out in force to the meeting chaired by The Mayor of Rye, Councillor Peter Dyce, to put questions to local M.P. Michael Foster, County Council Leader Peter Jones, representatives from the Police, Councillor Bantick, Chairman of the Rye council Safety Committee, Derek Bayntun of G.R.I.P.P. (Give Rye Its Proper Policing) and Town Clerk Richard Farhall.

Bruce Mathews is the newly appointed District Commander and promised at an earlier meeting that there would be a much improved police presence on the streets. He explained that the new system has had shown good results but in recent weeks the number of officers available at Rye had been limited by illness. There were now twelve officers plus two sergeants ‘dedicated’ to Rye and the villages (26,000 people). Rye Police Chief, Inspector David Goad, indicated that these figures were 25% under the promised strength but expected the number to increase by September when new recruits were fully trained and ready for duty.

Name and Shame
Michael Foster M.P. told the meeting that there had been a large reduction in crime over the past two years, this was treated with a certain amount of incredulity by the gathering. Reaction to his statement that ‘naming and shaming’ of persistent criminals by the police may well be possible in view of a recent Law Lords ruling was much better.

Peter Holland pinpointed the problem as being the difficulty in getting cases brought. Criminals were being let off with a caution. “This was demoralising the force” he claimed.

County Council Leader Peter Jones announced that Sussex would get sufficient police, despite only getting a 3% increase from central government but there would be a substantial rate increase to pay for the extra officers needed.


A questionnaire was distributed and made available to the panel of experts at the start of the meeting. C/I Bruce Mathews referred to it in his opening address and said that as many of the queries it raised would be answered throughout the evening. The answers were as follows.

In the light of a statement made by Tony Blair in last weeks Prime Minister’s Question time that “There are record numbers of Police at the present time” Why is it that Rye’s compliment of officers, which stood at 49 in 1970, now only numbers 14? Page eighteen Todays modern police force requires more men to deal with new types of crime i.e. International terrorism and crime, gun squads, paedophile computer scandals etc.

Why is Rye Police Station not open around the clock? Not enough staff.

Why are there no twenty-four hour foot patrols now? There is now a 24 hour ‘police presence’ in Rye.

Why are the cells at Rye Police Station full of junk and not used for the job for which they were int end ed ? int end ed ? Not answered Why were the police houses in Rye and the villages sold Off?

Not answered

Why is the luxury flat at Rye Police Station full of Junk and could it not be converted to accommodate two unattached officers?

Not answered

Why is it that in 1970 both Rye Fire Service and Rye Police could be on the scene anywhere in Rye in less than five minutes. Now in an emergency Rye Fire Service can get to anywhere in the town within five minutes and the police take anything up to an hour and a quarter?

Sometimes other calls with higher priority take precedence. Inspector David Gould the Rye Police Chief apologised for specific cases where response to the incidents took over one hour. He impressed many at the meeting with his genuine sincerity and must be congratulated, along with Area Commander Bruce Mathews for the improvements that have been made with so few extra officers.

Why is there not an Instant Response Unit available in the Rye area 24 hours a day?

Not answered

Why is there no active phone number at Rye Police Station?

Bruce Mathews told the meeting he is considering ways of making this possible.

When will Rye and the villages (26,000 people) get ‘Proper Policing’ i.e. 49 officers, 24 hour foot patrols, Round the clock opening of Rye Police Station, an emergency number at Rye Police Station and and Instant Response to calls for help?

Superintendent Nick Bennet of Senlac explained to the meeting that the clock cannot be put back. But as one old Ryer said to me afterwards. “The old way was best. It is the new methods of policing that have been in great part responsible for the problems we have today. We must learn from history”

Rye’s Own  April 2003

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