Shadow Home Secretary has concerns over crime in the rural Rother area

SHADOW Home Secretary Yvette Cooper fears Government cuts to the police budget could have an impact on crime in rural Rother.

Yvette, who is married to Labour MP Ed Balls, spoke out while on a visit to St Leonards to review how successful a new ‘Low Alcohol’ zone had been in its first six months of operation.

She came at the invite of Rye and Hastings Labour parliamentary candidate Sarah Owen, who said: “I have noticed that there has been an increase in break-ins and burglaries in the Rye area.”

Speaking to the Rye Observer the Shadow Home Secretary said: “The police cuts went to far.

“They ignored the option of a 12 percent cut and went for a 20 percent reduction instead.

“We have lost around 400 officers from the streets of East Sussex and that is bound to have some impact. Resources have been spread very thinly.

“I am concerned about crime being displaced to rural areas which are harder to police as they are more isolated and spread out.”

She was full of praise for the local police though and said the model of Neighbourhood policing, used in the area, was the best way to combat crime.

“Police are doing an excellent job in extremely difficult circumstances.

“Working in close partnership with the community and having strong neighbourhood policing is the answer.”

She said a future Labour government would review the role of Police and Crime Commissioners saying major reforms were needed.

She branded the £100 million spent on elections for Police and Crime Commissioners commenting: “That money could have paid for thousands of extra police officers.

“People want a direct realtionship with police where local knowledge plays a part.

“The partnership between police and local communities makes a difference in both preventing crime and in intelligence gained.”

Hastings Borough Council became the first local authority in Sussex to run the scheme which encourages off-licences to stop selling beer and cider at 6.5% abv and above.

A number of shops have signed up to the voluntary scheme in Hastings Town Centre, the Old Town and the Central St Leonards area.

The campaign aims to target the issue of alcohol fuelled antisocial behaviour.