Glitches affect Sussex Streets

1 February 2011, 18:11 | Updated: 16 February 2011, 11:40

Residents living in a sleepy neighbourhood today spoke of their surprise that it has been misleadingly ranked as an anti-social hotspot.

The area around Church Lane in the historic county town of Lewes in East Sussex figures in second place for anti-social behaviour in England and Wales.

There are said to have been 117 incidents recorded in December, according to figures published under the new street-by-street crime maps.

But it has emerged that the true picture has been skewed because Sussex Police's main call-handling centre and headquarters are based in the same road.

Police said out of the 117 incidents, 108 related to hoax calls, mainly received by mobile phone, which have been recorded in Church Lane because there was no alternative geographical location.

Today residents in the quiet community of smart bungalows and detached houses voiced fears that the figures could impact on house prices and home insurance.

Brian Smith, 62, a retired civilian worker with Sussex Police, said: ``I wasn't aware that there was any crime.

``I'm not aware of any burglaries or damage to cars or anything like that. We had a couple of bottles of milk stolen once, but that's about it and I have lived here nearly 60 years.

``I'm astounded by the figures but I suppose you can prove anything with statistics. You get the odd bit of graffiti but it's not a problem.''

Retired building society worker Marion King, 67, said: ``It's quiet and sleepy round here. I talk to the neighbours a lot and they've not had any problems.

``I notice the odd bit of graffiti but nothing too serious. I feel very safe round here. I'm shocked by the figures.

``It's not good for the people that live round here. If you knock on any of the doors here, they will tell you that crime isn't a problem.''

Another resident, Derek Jeeves, said: ``If it's going to have an effect on house insurance and house prices then it's wrong.

``It's against one's human rights because it would be classed as false information.''

A 28-year-old woman, who did not want to be named, said it was ``pathetic''.

She said: ``I've never had any problems at all. You might get the occasional argument but it's not as if people are going round stabbing people.''

Church Lane is beaten to the top of the anti-social behaviour list by Bolnore Road in Haywards Heath in neighbouring West Sussex which has also been affected by misleading figures as it too has a police call-handling centre based there.

It is said that there were 148 incidents in the road, of which 142 were due to hoax calls.

A police spokesman said: ``Sussex Police has been thorough in its recording and these high figures relate to hoax calls, mainly received by mobile phone, which have been recorded at those sites because there was no alternative geographical location.

``They do not relate to disproportionate levels of crime or anti-social behaviour in those local areas.

``The force is awaiting advice from the NPIA as to how they wish us to record these types of incidents in the future to avoid any confusion and so that they can be readily compared to other areas.''