National award for Police in Wealden

Wealden’s Neighbourhood Policing team have been honoured with a national award.

Operation Asteroid – the response to anti-social behaviour in Uckfield, was the winner in the Neighbourhoods category of the 2021 Tilley Awards, set up by the Home Office to recognise successful problem-orientated projects.

The winning approach included working alongside East Sussex County Council’s Children’s Services team, identifying issues and exploring ways for partners in the community to play a role in addressing them.

The Contextual Safeguarding Assessment (CSA), carried out in May 2020, followed collaboration over a number of years between police, the county council, town council and Chamber of Commerce, among others, which resulted in a venue and funding being secured to re-open an Uckfield Youth Club in April 2019.

While that work addressed some of the issues in the Uckfield area, there remained continuing challenges with a small number of young people.

PC Emily Dudley said: “Since we started that dedicated approach, we now have better relationships with the young people and they seem to have more respect for us and understand that we are there to not only help them, but also safeguard them.

They do still understand that we are police officers and that we will still enforce the law when they break it. This has helped some of them change their views of the police and the fact that they have got to know us has meant they are more willing to speak to us. This has helped with our understanding of behaviours at individual and group level.”

Cllr Sylvia Tidy, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for children and families, added: “This is a well-deserved award which recognises the amount of work Wealden Police and Council staff put into addressing the issues in Uckfield and surrounding areas.

More often than not anti-social behaviour is seen as an issue for the police to address, but the response to the problems in Uckfield show just how important it is to work as a partnership and a community to uncover the reasons behind the behaviour and look at the role each part of that community can play to change things.”

As a result of winning the award, Sussex Police has been invited to present Operation Asteroid at the National Problem Solving Conference in September. There, the overall winner of the 2020/21 Tilley Awards will be announced.