Bognor Regis Eastern European police project launched
An operation to improve communication with Eastern Europeans in a Sussex town has been launched by police.
Sussex Police said they wanted to encourage Bognor Regis's Eastern European community to report crime.
Operation Accent aims to improve understanding of Eastern European languages and cultures.
Sussex Police said another aim of the operation was to dispel the myth that most crime in the town was carried out by Eastern Europeans.
Police said 18% of people arrested in the Arun district last year were Eastern European.'Language biggest barrier'
Ch Insp Jane Derrick said: "It's really difficult to undo or unpick some of those beliefs or perceptions that the police can't be trusted."
She said there had been a slight improvement in reporting of crime by Eastern Europeans in Bognor Regis but language remained the biggest barrier.
Ch Insp Derrick added: "Probably 50% of the people that now come to our police station in Bognor their first language is not English, and we recognise that's an issue we need to deal with.
"Actually I see that as a positive. I see that they now understand that they can come to us and tell us about things that are going on."'Community problem'
Sussex Police is looking to attract funding to employ an interpreter and is appealing for volunteers to help the force understand Eastern European languages and cultures.
Under Operation Accent Sussex Police said it was working with Arun District Council and West Sussex County Council.
Arun District Council estimates that 6,000 Eastern Europeans are living in the area, which has a population of 150,000.
Nigel Lynn, chief executive at Arun District Council, said: "It's a community problem, we're looking at any ways we can help the police.
"We need to try and get in under the skin of the culture and work with people so that they can inform the police."