After an evening out with some friends I strolled along Kingsway in Hove, enjoying a smoke as I reached the old Victorian gift shop just across from West Street.

I paused to lean on the railings and consider the sea, alone with my thoughts in the early hours of a mild September Monday morning.

Out of the darkness came a voice: "You a policeman?".

I looked down towards the lower esplanade at a young black man with short dreadlocks and blond highlights looking up at me.

"Pardon?" I said, not being quite sure he was talking to me. "You a policeman?" he shouted again.

When I told him I was not, he replied: "You want to watch where you're standing."

I was quite gobsmacked that I was being told I could not enjoy my stroll along the seafront so I told him in a few short words what I thought of him.

At this point, another four or so young men appeared from the shadows and I heard one say: "Go up and slap him."

So, as they moved towards the stairs from the lower esplanade to the top, I made a hasty retreat towards Buddies all-night diner.

Having lived in various inner-cities throughout the UK, it has been my experience that they all had what was commonly known as a "frontline", a place where drugs could be bought 24/7.

This territory, or turf, is always a no-go area for members of the public who don't want to buy drugs and, in some cases, an unofficial no-go area for police officers.

Congratulations, Brighton, you have allowed a "frontline" to establish on your main tourism asset.

Be warned. Once established, it is very difficult for the authorities to disband these "frontlines".

-Kenneth Burgoyne, Hove