A TRIO of former police officers have swapped a life of fighting crime for a life of grime to hunt down people causing blockages in the sewers.

Dave Burnett, Martyn Chandler and Steve Williams are Southern Water’s Fat Detectives, armed with their mascot Bruce, a fluffy orange monster found in the sewers.

As part of Southern Water’s Pain in the Drain campaign, the detectives ensure commercial customers understand the problems caused by putting fat oil and grease in the sewers.

Mr Williams, a former dog handler for Sussex Police, from Hailsham, said: “Once you’ve told someone, there’s no excuse really.

“I washed up a roasting tin in the sink and let the oily water drain away down the plug, then the next day I had to spend two hours unblocking the u-bend. It was nasty and I never did it again.”

In the first half of this year, there were almost 4,500 fat, oil and gas related blockages across the Southern Water region, including more than 175 in Brighton and Hove.

Cooking oils and fats solidify as they cool, causing blockages in customers’ pipes and the sewers which can lead to wastewater flooding into streets, gardens and homes. The Pain in the Drain campaign makes it clear that only three Ps – pee, poo and paper – should go down the toilet.