Building a safe and secure Essex, despite the pandemic
Essex Police and Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Annual Report 2019-2020
Essex Police has grown in size, strength and capability over the past few years and is now better equipped to meet the challenges policing brings, even those faced during the COVID 19 pandemic.
Speaking following publication of the 2019-2020 Annual Report for Essex Police and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, PFCC Roger Hirst, said: “It is often during a crisis that we get to see the true strength of the organisations that we have built. In Essex, we have supported significant increases in funding to enable the Chief Constable to recruit more officers and this has seen the force grow at its fastest rate in a generation. This increased strength has enabled the force to provide more visible patrols, more reassurance and to respond more effectively to the emerging challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The report shows that Essex Police is now a growing force with 519 extra officers due to join Essex Police by April 2021. These officers were largely paid for through increases in the policing precept and as part of the national officer uplift programme introduced by the Prime Minister in 2019.
Mr Hirst added: “While increasing tax is always a difficult choice to make, the support shown by the public and illustrated through our regular public engagements and surveys, coupled with the support of the Police, Fire and Crime Panel, shows that in Essex this was the right choice.”
“The officers that have been recruited are already having an impact. During 2019-2020 Essex Police has strengthened its local policing teams across the county, bolstered its community policing teams and introduced new town centre teams. These extra officers are providing a more local and visible presence in our communities and are linking in well with their Community Safety Partnerships to identify and proactively deal with issues important to local residents.”
Twenty-two town centre teams were introduced across Essex in July 2019 and include 12 sergeants and 58 constables. These highly visible officers target where Essex Police knows that proactive, visible activity can have a big positive impact on crime and anti-social behaviour, as well as increasing public confidence. Town centres are also key priorities for partners and communities as well as being a focus for street-based violence and vulnerability, so these extra officers are making a big difference, working with partners in a highly visible way.
The report also shows that during 2019-2020, Anti-Social Behaviour continued to fall with a reduction of 11.2 per cent in anti-social behaviour year-on-year. This is the fourth year in a row that there has been a reduction in anti-social behaviour with a 20.9 per cent (10,908 fewer incidents) reduction in anti-social behaviour across the country since 2016-2017.
As with all areas across the country, Essex has experienced an increase in overall crime. In Essex, this has been a 5.4 per cent increase; much smaller than in many other areas in the country. This has, in part, been driven by an increase in levels of violent crime across the country, as well as a continued rise in the reporting of domestic abuse.
Mr Hirst said: “To tackle the rise in violent crime, specifically, drug driven violence, we have continued to invest in our violence and vulnerability programme. This long-term programme is investing in a wide range of interventions to help keep young people and the vulnerable away from a life of crime and help those who have started down this path to get out. Essex was one of the first counties to establish a specialist unit looking at this work and the fact this model has now been replicated across the country indicates the value that it is seen to provide.”
Key developments outlined in the Annual Report include:
- 368 extra officers had been recruited by April 2020 and a total of 519 by April 2021.
- The Essex Special Constabulary was the second largest and fastest growing Special Constabulary in the Country. Growing by 9 per cent during 2019-2020 and contributing 23.8 per cent more hours than 2018-2019, bringing the total contribution to 195,813 hours in 2019-2020.
- Twenty-two town centre teams were introduced to towns across Essex in July 2019 and include 12 sergeants and 58 constables.
- 2 per cent reduction in anti-social behaviour year-on-year.
- A new Business Crime Team was established who work closely with businesses to create greater resilience within the business community in Essex, preventing crime and protecting and safeguarding the vulnerable.
- The Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit was established with members seconded from Essex Police, the Youth Service, Prison Service and County Council. Working closely with strategic partners, £3.584m Home Office funding has been brought into Essex in 2018/19 and 2019/20.
A full version of the Annual Report can be viewed here.