Martin Read – News Reporter
At around 9pm last Friday police were called to a stabbing incident in an especially violent fight outside the Lynd Cross pub in Horsham town centre, following which a 20 year old Crawley man was rushed to hospital with serious injuries. The area was cordoned off, the pub closed and dispersal, and emergency stop and search powers implemented, Sussex Police issuing a statement saying that a 55 year old man arrested on suspicion of affray has been released on bail until November 29th and two other men, one aged 26 and the other 38, who were also arrested, both for possible involvement and possession of an offensive weapon, have been released without further action.
This is the second Horsham knife attack in less than a fortnight. In the previous stabbing – in the skate park in Horsham Park – a 16 year old boy was the victim of an attempted robbery of his jacket, sustaining a serious stomach wound requiring urgent admission to Brighton’s Royal Sussex County Hospital. A 19 year old man was also taken to hospital after receiving blows to his face.
The incidents are all the more shocking because Horsham has long since been regarded as a pleasant, relatively crime free town where families feel safe. But, it has become clear that the district is not immune from the national trend of increasing knife crime, triggering the perceived need to carry a blade for self protection, only serving to exacerbate the problem. In the wake of the Park attack worried parents went on social media demanding enhanced lighting and security cameras, a Council spokesperson responding with: “The Council was very sorry to hear of the disturbing and traumatic events in the Park and has been fully co-operating with the police investigation. The skate park area is lit until 10pm and is covered by a CCTV camera. Other areas of the Park are also covered by the Public Space CCTV Network and these cameras are fully functioning during the day and after dark. Additionally, the Council’s security contractor and neighbourhood wardens patrol the site, inspecting and deterring any anti-social behaviour.”
And, after Friday’s town centre attack, Horsham’s police commander, Chief Inspector Sarah Leadbeater confirmed that officers would be maintaining a presence to reassure residents, adding: “We need the community’s support to help tackle this unacceptable behaviour by reporting matters of concern – either online at www.police.uk/contact/af/contact-us/, by calling 101, quoting Operation Evesham, or by contacting the independent Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.” The police are especially interested to hear from anyone who was in Horsham on Friday night and saw anything of what happened in the attack outside the Lynd Cross pub.
Fortunately, the victims of both attacks are showing good signs of recovery, but that does not lessen concern, Councillor Christine Costin saying: “We want Horsham to be a safe and happy place. A lot of people are nervous to go out and that’s not how we want Horsham to be – other people are going to get injured. It’s horrible. Carrying knives and other weapons is making our streets unsafe. This is just not how a civilised country behaves and it’s got to be stopped.” Councillor Costin plans to meet the police to discuss possible solutions.