The use of email as a weapon against crime is to be stepped up.

The email system has already been introduced in nine towns and villages across East Sussex.

Now it has been announced that the Neighbourhood Watch scheme will also go live in a further seven areas within the next three months, giving residents extra peace of mind and forging stronger links between communities and the police.

Retired policeman Leslie Drake, 51, has become Neighbourhood Watch electronic co-ordinator and will act as the central contact between police and residents in the Burwash area.

He will relay information so residents are kept abreast of crime-fighting developments in their area.

Mr Drake, a former community policeman in the Senlac division for eight years, said: "It is a two-way rapid communication channel in which residents can report suspicious activity or concerns through me to the police.

"I have direct email contact with local beat police officers and police crime prevention.

"I am able to pass on details of crimes rapidly to local residents directly into their homes.

"Any concerns or problems reported locally can also be flashed immediately around the rest of the village.

"It's early days but I think its benefits will be seen soon."

Mr Drake, of Shrub Lane, Burwash, stressed the system was not an alternative to reporting crime through the emergency or non-emergency numbers and was not a substitute for Neighbourhood Watch's traditional ring-round system.

He said: "We are not asking people to email if there is an emergency going on.

"It's an information exchange which is a great way for the community to help fight against local crime.

"I'm hoping it will also act as a deterrent to thieves who will realise we have a strong Neighbourhood Watch scheme in place."

The scheme is already working in Staplecross, Ewhurst, Bodiam, Sedlescombe, Northiam, Etchingham, Hurst Green, Mountfield and Brightling.

It will start up soon in Robertsbridge, Battle, Whatlington, Dallington and finally Broad Oak, Brede and Rye.

Any residents wanting to join the schemes should send an email to