People have been urged to report anti-social behaviour to the police rather than just sharing incidents on social media.
Inspector Pete Dommett gave the advice after being asked about recent incidents in Burgess Hill, which had been branded ‘horrendous’ by Mid Sussex District Councillors.
The council reported that children had been left ‘absolutely terrified’ by the behaviour, with some who ‘desperately need counselling now due to the bullying’.
Insp Dommett said the problems were not gang violence and that police were working in partnership with the council to deal with the situation.
He added: “This sort of behaviour involving young children can only be resolved through combined efforts of the local authority, social services, parents, and police where appropriate.
“Whilst we agree that the misconduct of a small number of people can cause a disproportionate effect in the community, often we find that many alleged events are reported on social media but are not reported to the police.
“We urge residents with concerns to report them to us, and be prepared to make statements that can support partnership action or enforcement.”