Chelmsford residents have their say on crime and community safety
Anti-Social Behaviour, police funding, and the changing focus of policing were just some of the topics discussed at the Police and Crime Commissioner’s public meeting in Chelmsford.
Residents attended the Keene Hall in Galleywood on Thursday September 10 for the meeting hosted by Nick Alston.
Chelmsford’s District Commander Chief Insp Alan Cook gave an overview of all crime in the district and the increasing focus on tackling crimes which cause serious harm such as domestic abuse, and violent and sexual offences. Comparing reports for 1st August 2014 to 31st July 2015 with 1st August 2013 to 31st July 2014, all crime has reduced by 1.1 per cent (104 fewer offences), and house burglary by 23 per cent (127 fewer offences). However, sexual offences have increased by 35.8% (58 more offences) comparing the same time periods.
Figures show knife crime-related incidents in Chelmsford have decreased, with 82 knife crimes occurring between 1st September 2013 and 31st August 2014, compared with 63 for the same period in 2014-15.
A full briefing on local crime trends can be seen here.
There were plenty of questions about the change in Essex Police’s policy on Anti-Social Behaviour, which has increased by 10.1% in Chelmsford, equating to 418 more incidents, comparing the period from 1st August 2014 and 31st July 2015, with 2013-14. Chief Insp Cook explained that moving forward Essex Police will ensure all reported incidents of anti-social behaviour are risk assessed. The public can expect a response from police where: the behaviour is likely to cause significant harm, the victim is vulnerable or a high risk of threat or harm is identified, or where repeat victimisation is identified.
Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, addressed questions about police funding, emphasising that some details would be unclear until government announcements about changes to the funding formula were made in November 2015. However, current estimates suggested that Essex Police needed to save £63 million by 2019-20, from a budget of around £270 million. Ninety per cent of the police budget is spent on salaries, and given that £1 million paid for around 20 police constables, it was inevitable that Essex Police would become a smaller organisation. He stressed the need for people to report crime and suspicious behaviour to ensure that policing could continue to provide local solutions for local problems.
Spencer Clarke, Public Protection Manager for Chelmsford district, spoke about the use of notices around legal highs at the V festival, and increased flexibility of ASB legislation in terms of sanctions. He also explained the drug testing on arrest project run in collaboration with Essex Police and the PCC which aims to reduce re-offending through stopping risky behaviour and encouraging treatment and rehabilitation.