LITTLEHAMPTON, Hastings and Crawley are all among violent crime "hot spots" in Sussex, according to a recent report.

Research by the life-saving charity Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS), in partnership with the University of Surrey, mapped incidents of stabbing and shooting across the South East of England.

The study found reports of violent and weapon-related crime increasing in rural and semi-rural areas, with incidents more prevalent along so-called “county lines” - networks established by drug dealers to supply substances to users in more rural areas.

READ MORE: Sussex has seen knife crime more than double in just seven years, figures reveal

The heat map reveals major areas of violent crime in Eastbourne, Bexhill and Horsham, with smaller areas in Bognor and Seaford.

Responding to the reports findings, Professor Richard Lyon MBE, associate medical director at KSS and professor of pre-hospital emergency care at the University of Surrey, said: “We know that there has been a significant increase in knife crime and penetrating trauma incidents in urban areas over the past decade, and more recently we have seen numbers increasing in rural and semi-rural areas, too.

“Our study confirms a specific pattern to these incidents mirroring existing county lines drug trafficking, and the findings will help knife crime prevention strategy and the safeguarding of vulnerable people at risk.”

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The research analysed data from the air ambulance service from 2014 to 2019, where they attended to 363 patients with a penetrating trauma injury to their torso.

Of these patients, 88 per cent were male with an average age of 30, with 62 per cent of incidents taking place during the night.

Brighton and Hove is said to be the number one spot in the UK for county lines, due in part for its proximity to the capital and appetite for profitable substances, such as cocaine.

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To fuel the demand, children as young as ten are reportedly recruited by exploitative gangs through social media platforms like Snapchat to hold drugs and weapons.

Air Ambulance KSS, set up in 1990, was the first 24/7 helicopter emergency medical service in the country, and has an active research and development programme with the aim of furthering the understanding and development of pre-hospital emergency medicine to improve the care and outcome of patients.

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