In the Media

Polish criminal came to England after seeing poster 'Come to Bognor Regis' poster in jail

PUBLISHED June 18, 2012

The advertisements, pinned up in a prison in Poland, implore the convicted criminals to "start a new life" on the Sussex coast.

According to police, the hardened criminals are now visiting British shores and developing organised crime groups, with one inspector claiming: "This is what we are up against".

It is feared the gangs specialise in theft, burglary and possibly human trafficking among migrant agricultural workers.

Inspector Nick Bowman, of the force's Arun district, said the link was discovered after a Polish man was arrested in the area in a stolen car and explained why he had travelled there.

Insp Bowman said: "He had just been released from a Polish prison.

"He let the officers know the reason he came here was there was literature out there that said 'come to Bognor Regis, start a new life'.

"That is what we are up against."

According to police figures, nearly one in five crimes in the area is committed by Eastern Europeans, with fears many more committed within the community may not have been reported.

Insp Bowman said: "Some of these individuals who are criminals in their home countries come over here and develop organised crime groups where they are making a huge amount of money.

"When they get what they think is sufficient they'll go back to their own country and build a big house.

"They have considered themselves untouchable, but that is not the case."

Police are now working to engage with the community, in the hopes of overcoming a apparent general mistrust of the authorities.

Insp Bowman said: "We the police haven't yet managed to reach out and engage with the settled community - the hard-working, decent, legitimate community."

It is estimated around 6,000 Eastern Europeans are living in the Arun District area, which has a population of 150,000.

Last month, the force launched Operation Accent to improve the understanding of Eastern European languages and cultures, after finding "many" of the 441 offences between April 2012 and March 2011 had been committed by someone of Eastern European origin.

Chief Inspector Jane Derrick stressed "they are not solely responsible for all of it, despite what some residents locally believe" and said: "Together with our partners, this is about working with a community that we don't understand"