A POLICE chief has pledged to get her officers on the streets to tackle crime after criticisms by traders and residents.

Chief Inspector Rachel Swinney has recently taken on the role of district commander for Brighton at the police station in John Street.

Her arrival last month comes as residents in St James’s Street raised concerns with Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne that the area has become “lawless” with open drug dealing and aggressive begging.

Earlier this week The Argus reported on traders’ concerns about a lack of police presence, and residents who have found needles dumped in the street.

But Chief Insp Swinney says she has listened to residents concerns, and says she will be taking action.

She said: “I think if the public are telling us they are unhappy, we have a duty to listen, to find out more and to understand why they are feeling like that.

“I’m absolutely committed to working with people in the St James’s Street area, to look at their concerns and find solutions.

“I’m aware of the concerns about police visibility. There will be a series of dates where my team and I will be in the area, available to sit down so that we can really get a grip of the issues affecting people in their everyday life.

“Our local prevention teams have been active in this area with focused patrols.

“I am making there is dedicated team of officers who specifically have the responsibility of working with residents and are available to listen their concerns.”

Chief Insp Swinney previously led the force’s integrated offender management unit, which looked at how to deal with persistent and problematic criminals, so she believes this experience will help in her role.

There will also be a key focus on working in partnership with charity groups and with Brighton and Hove City Council to launch a combined approach.

She said: “We need to look for long term solutions. If we arrest everybody in the area, they can be displaced. We need a combined approach rather than quick fixes.

Chief Insp Swinney said that she started her career as an officer in Brighton and Hove 26 years ago, and said solving the problem is “really important” for her, and said officers will be taking effective action to curb criminals.

She added: “I will be taking a robust approach to criminality. Aggressive begging and open drug dealing will not be tolerated.”