POLICE are keeping the public in the dark about hundreds of crimes reported in Brighton and Hove.

The full scale of Sussex Police’s lack of disclosure is laid bare by The Argus today.

This newspaper has discovered 787 crimes were reported in the city in a fortnight. But police only released details about two and chose to keep quiet about the remaining 785.

These include:

  • Rapes
  • Robberies
  • Kidnappings
  • Possession of firearms or other weapons
  • Drugs trafficking
  • Threats to kill

These are just the most serious crimes the force has failed to disclose according to crime statistics for March 2 to March 15 obtained through a Freedom of Information request submitted by The Argus.

This is despite the force having one of the highest expenditures in the country on communications and public relations at a cost of £1.2m to the taxpayer.

Even now Sussex Police refuses to give the public further information about these offences because it would require a “manual search” which is not a “requirement of the police”.

Graham Cox, a former detective chief superintendent in charge of Sussex CID, said the public had a right to know about the crimes.

In addition to the offences above, at least 140 assaults were reported and police officers were attacked on five occasions, a company director was suspected of fraud, there were scores of burglaries and several incidents deemed to cause the public fear, alarm, or distress.

The information shows at the date of its release just 119 of the crimes were classed by police as ‘solved’ because a suspect had been charged.

This means that 668 crimes remained unsolved.

They include three rapes, seven robberies, two kidnappings, six possession of firearms or other weapons, two drugs trafficking and two threats to kill.

During those two weeks press releases on just 114 crimes across the entire county were published by the force’s press office. Only ten were about crimes in Brighton and Hove, and just two of those were incidents which had been reported during that fortnight.

None of the serious crimes revealed by The Argus today were mentioned, and Sussex Police is still refusing to divulge more information about these specifically despite repeated requests to its FOI department and press office.

FOI officer Roger Brace told The Argus more details would “require a manual search of the data base” which was “not a requirement” of the police under the law.

Mr Cox, who worked for the force for 30 years, said: “It never ceases to amaze me how many communications staff or press officers the police now have.

“The media has helped solve crimes and if there needs to be discretion on an investigation they should make the press aware.”

Mr Cox also claimed the aftermath of the Leveson Inquiry – launched to scrutinise ethics and practices of the British press after the phone hacking scandal - caused a “total overreaction” and made police officers “scared” to speak to the press in case they were reprimanded.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors which fights for media freedom, said it seemed “ridiculous” Sussex Police was not prepared to tell the public about crime and suggested police were trying to prevent fear of crime.

Investigative journalist and university lecturer Heather Brooke, whose work prompted news of the MPs’ expenses scandal in 2009, said in her book Your Right To Know: “Crime statistics ought to be widely available to the public. After all, we have a pressing... and direct need to know how safe we are.”

The force has one of the highest expenditures in the country on communications and public relations, spending £1,207,756 last year. It employs 27 staff to answer media queries, publish press releases, deal with internal communications, manage the website and social media.

Read an interview with Sussex Police's chief superintendent Nev Kemp responding to this report in tomorrow's Argus.