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Sussex Police launch specialist protest team
Police have unveiled a new tactic as they try to deal with an increase in protests in Sussex.
With the number of protests in the county increasing in recent years, particularly in Brighton and Hove, Sussex Police has announced that two dedicated Protest Liaison Officers will shortly be introducing themselves to protest groups.
Sergeant Mark Redbourn and PC Stephanie Franks will be making the visits over the coming weeks.
According to Sussex Police, this is to ‘develop its approach to enable greater communication, understanding and facilitation of peaceful protests’.
Chief Inspector Paul Betts said: “Everyone has the democratic right to protest and as we know the city of Brighton and Hove has always attracted diverse communities and welcomed freedom of speech.
“It is therefore one of our core functions as a police service to facilitate these protests whilst balancing this with the needs of the rest of the community.
“While we have used officers in a protest liaison capacity in the city for a number of years, we are now changing how these officers operate and, for the first time, investing in a specialist team to build and maintain relationships on a permanent basis.
“Sergeant Redbourn and PC Franks are working within our communities on a daily basis. Over the coming weeks, they will be contacting protest groups directly, offering information about their role and explaining ways of contacting them before, during and after a protest.
“During protests they will be easily recognisable and visible by their light blue police liaison officer tabards.
“Their primary role will be to increase engagement with protest groups by supporting an open and honest two-way dialogue with them, before during and after events.
“By doing this we hope to better facilitate peaceful protest, and provide a safe environment for the protesters and others in the city.”
He added: “We accept that some groups will not want to engage with us initially and some may choose not to at all, which we will respect. But we owe it to the many communities of Brighton and Hove, including those who engage in protest, to try.”
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