The Home Secretary visited a town blighted by violent crimes to win over voters.

Top Tory minister James Cleverly was in Crawley once again this morning on the campaign trail to support candidate Zack Ali.

Crawley and other towns in Sussex have been affected by serious and violent crimes from people of all ages – some of which are as young as 13.

Cleverly has committed to putting 8,000 officers on streets up and down the country if the Tories win the General Election on July 4 with some of these in Sussex to bring down crime rates – which he said are already “significantly” down over the last 14 years of Conservative rule.

The Argus asked him how he would tackle the issue of teenagers terrorising shop workers and assaulting members of the public which has been a problem in Barnham and Brighton alike.

Read more: Teens terrorise Brighton with relentless assaults and shoplifting

He said: “We are very conscious that people have the right to feel safe in their communities, whether it is in their homes, the high streets or on the seafront.

Campaigners join a selfie with James CleverlyCampaigners join a selfie with James Cleverly (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

“I have spoken with Katy [Bourne, Sussex PCC] regularly about how she has done brilliant work not only with the extra police officers she’s recruited but using technology really effectively.

“We’ve committed to an additional 8,000 neighbourhood-based police officers that will make sure we continue to push down on antisocial behaviour, retail crime and people misbehaving.”

Crawley candidate Zack Ali and James Cleverly in Crawley todayCrawley candidate Zack Ali and James Cleverly in Crawley today (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

His answer did not include any mention of the Conservative's big proposal to introduce a national service scheme, touted to keep youngsters in check amid rising youth crime.

Read more: Violent criminal strangled man and stole van in 'distressing' string of attacks

Some of these crimes are fuelled by drug addictions and abuse, with contraband finding its way through county lines and across the British border at Gatwick near Crawley.

Cleverly in an interview for the BBCCleverly in an interview for the BBC (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

On Monday, Tyrone Gordon and Ryan Steadman were jailed for orchestrating a gang of corrupt luggage handlers who would smuggle cocaine through the airport from bags coming from Spain and Brazil.

Mr Cleverly said: “Smuggling is a real issue, whether it is drug smuggling, illicit tobacco or people smuggling.

“It is a really, really pernicious international challenge.

“The National Crime Agency work with law enforcement agencies across Europe to crack down on these things. We have protected the budgets for those agencies to make sure they continue to do that great work.

“These additional police officers will work closely with them.

“We recognise this is an issue, particularly for a force that has a major airport like Gatwick and I am pleased with how well the Border Force, National Crime Agency and Sussex Police work together to crack down on this.”

A campaigner for Zack Ali in CrawleyA campaigner for Zack Ali in Crawley (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

He joined canvassers in Woolbury Road knocking on doors trying to get the Conservative vote in the upcoming General Election.

“The polls tell me we’re not going to win,” said Mr Cleverly. “But I knock on the door and I’m really struggling to find people who are going to vote Labour.”

The seat has been held by Conservative Henry Smith since 2010 – but recent polls show a swing to Labour’s Peter Lamb.

Boxes filled with campaign letters ready to go out to votersBoxes are filled with campaign letters ready to go out to voters (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

With Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visiting nearby Horsham on Monday and Cleverly in the High Street in March - it is clear the party are putting a focus on the area.

Parliamentary hopeful Zack Ali said: “The media are portraying a done deal for Labour, but when they hear about my plan, talk to me and ask questions, they like that I have a measurable and deliverable plan.

“Katy Bourne told me our conviction rate in Sussex is 70 per cent for shoplifting and the Home Secretary reassured us about extra police… so I think it is all good news.”

Cleverly joined in a campaign video with Zack Ali and police and crime commissioner Katy BourneCleverly joined in a campaign video with Zack Ali and police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

Zack Ali already serves as a councillor in the Southgate and Gossops Green ward on West Sussex County Council.

“If they put their faith in me on July 4, I will do my best. I am getting more and more support on the doorstep for my plan and for me.”

Zack’s pledges include plans to keep Crawley Hospital’s urgent treatment centre open 24 hours a day, fight shop theft and regenerate the high street.