Chafford Hundred voices
We had a lively and constructive meeting in Chafford Hundred on Thursday March 6, where members of the community discussed ASB, street robbery, car cruisers, the local train station, drugs and other issues at length.
Inspector Leigh Norris informed local residents of the action police and community safety partners were taking to tackle these issues. There was support for the efforts of the local neighbourhood policing team, with praise for PCSO Jackie Ball and Pc Paul Armstrong. Insp Norris also received some valuable intelligence and information from the audience.
There’s a lot of multi-agency work being undertaken to combat the ongoing problem of cruisers. The most recent Dispersal Order expired at the end of November, and there is likely to be an application for a new one from April 2014. Thurrock Council is working with some of the major businesses with late night opening – supermarkets and restaurants – and with the owners of car parks, to ensure they play their part. We are also working with partners such as the Highways Agency and Thurrock Council Highways Department to see if changes to the road design can help. Finally, anyone who witnesses illegal or dangerous behaviour by cruisers should report the incident to police as soon as it has happened, ideally with the index of the vehicles involved either via telephone number 101 or 999 if the caller feels there is a crime in progress or public safety is at immediate risk. Informants are reminded not to user social media such as Twitter to report matters that require prompt police attention.
The figures for Chafford Hundred, comparing April 2012 – January 2013 with April 2013 – January 2014, show that there were 466 reported crimes in 2013-14 compared with 567 offences previously, an overall crime reduction of 17.8 per cent. House burglary has fallen by 42.9 per cent, with 20 burglaries in 2013-14 compared with 35 in 2012-13. Vehicle crime is down by a quarter, 25.7 per cent, and ASB by 12 per cent, 330 incidents in 2013-14 compared to 375 in 2012-13
Some concern was expressed at the meeting regarding a perceived influx of “gangs” from the London area into Chafford Hundred. For police forces, “gangs” are organised criminal groups who:
1) see themselves (and are seen by others) as a discernible group;
2) engage in criminal activity and violence;
3) lay claim over territory (this is not necessarily a geographical territory but can include an illegal economy);
4) have some form of identifying structural feature; and
5) who have conflict with other, similar gangs.
Insp Norris said that Essex Police works closely with the Metropolitan Police Service and British Transport Police, and intelligence and analysis did not suggest that there was a major influx of gang-related activity into the Chafford Hundred area. Young people have always tended to congregate in groups and whilst often no real harm is caused, such groups of course can be perceived as threatening. Essex Police will continue to keep a close watch on this matter.
The one major crime type to have shown an increase of two offences in Chafford Hundred is robbery, where there were 12 reported crimes in 2013-14 compared with 10 in 2012-13. In addition to any physical harm caused and the loss of items stolen in the crime, a street robbery is often a traumatic experience for the victim. The flow of information about suspicious behaviour and accurate descriptions of any suspects is essential to help police identify and arrest robbers. Insp Norris stated that his Youth Officers will continue to work closely with young people and local schools and colleges to ensure they are risk-aware and have the confidence to report all crimes.
Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex