I was extremely saddened to read about the theft of paving slabs from the Peace Garden at Patcham, near Brighton. My Twitter and Facebook posts initially referred to this as a senseless crime, unfortunately that is not the case. I have no doubt that this theft made absolute sense to the perpetrator – no doubt they benefited a good deal and I suspect that they would have considered this a ‘victimless’ crime – nobody was hurt either physically or financially.
Coming so soon after the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, the true victim of this crime is the entire community. As well as providing a focal point for formal, collective acts of remembrance each November, such settings also provide a place where individuals can reflect upon the sacrifices made not only in the two World Wars, but also in more recent conflicts. In a report in the Brighton and Hove News, Councillor Geoffrey Theobald states that the paving stones were not insured and that the damage is estimated to be in the region of £5000.
As a displaced native of Sussex and retired officer, I have been in contact with another local Councillor, Lee Wares and offered to assist in any way that I can. There is already talk of raising funds to replace the slabs which are made of heavy York stone. One of my suggestions is to mobilise local youth groups, Service-related organisations and the wider community and use this sad event as an opportunity to upgrade the Garden to benefit future generations. One idea is to emblazon replacement slabs with the insignia of organisations that assist as well as the cap badges of Regiments, Corps and Services of the men from Patcham who gave their lives.
I will post more on this topic as the story unfolds.