Essex Police show strength and resilience during a challenging year – Essex Police and Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Annual Report 2020-2021
Years of growth and extra investment has meant Essex Police were able to tackle the challenges of policing during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-21, while continuing to get crime down.
Speaking following publication of the 2020-2021 Annual Report for Essex Police and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, PFCC Roger Hirst, said: “The last year has been a difficult and challenging time, but it has also shown the strength of policing in Essex and how our longer-term strategy of growth, investment and partnership has started to get crime down and is delivering real results for residents.”
The force recruited 500 extra officers by the end of March 2021 with funding agreed for a further 218 officers to be recruited before March 2022.
Mr Hirst added “The extra officers we have recruited, combined with targeted investment in prevention and partnership activity has helped us to get crime down. Anti-social behaviour, burglary and theft have been falling for several years and the trend of reducing levels of crime has continued throughout the pandemic.
The number of crimes recorded in Essex fell by 11.4% in the twelve months to March 2021 compared to the same period a year earlier, while violence with injury was down by 13.5%. This is a significant drop and while much of the reduction can be attributed to the national lockdowns it also reflects, in part, a pattern we were starting to see prior to the pandemic, where the growth in crime was slowing and starting to decline.
Mr Hirst said: “While much of the country has seen a spike in domestic abuse, in Essex, by investing in programmes to change offender behaviour, support victims and the introduction of Domestic Abuse Problem Solving Teams, we have kept Domestic Abuse in check. Our ambition is to invest further in these areas to start getting domestic abuse down and reducing the harm it causes to so many in our communities.”
The Commissioner secured £605,967 of extra funding for local domestic abuse charities to increase the capacity of local services. The funding also helped to make venues and services COVID-secure, so they could continue to provide vital support to victims. Sexual violence organisations were also provided with £415,000 to support their work during COVID including the provision of extra counselling.
The report also shows that the public’s confidence that Essex Police do a good or very good job has improved with steady, consistent increases throughout 2019-2020 and then significant jumps in 2020-2021. Overall, in 2020-2021 76% of the public felt Essex Police was doing a good or very good job compared to 65% in 2019-2020.
This trend has continued during the year with levels of public confidence increasing to 79.8% for the twelve months to October 2021 compared to the previous 12 months. During the same period overall crime fell by 1.6%.
Key developments outlined in the Annual Report include:
- 500 extra officers recruited by the end of March 2021 and funding for a further 218 secured. These will all be in post by March 2022.
- Continued focus on rural crime with a dedicated team focusing on unauthorised encampments, hare coursing and rural theft. The work of this dedicated team has seen a reduction in the number of unauthorised encampments from 229 in 2018 to 182 for the 12 months to March 2021.
- Special Constabulary is the second largest in the country with 521 officers. They also increased the total number of hours delivered by 11.45% to 214,503, equivalent to 122 full time officers.2020/21.
- Police Cadet programme is the largest in the Eastern Region with 410 Cadets and 80 leaders.
- Largest Community Safety Accreditation Scheme in the country with 460 people, 44 organisations working together with the police across the county.
- £605,967 of extra funding was secured for local domestic abuse charities to increase the capacity of local services.
- Sexual violence organisations were provided with £415,000 of extra funding to support their work during COVID including the provision of extra counselling.
- In July 2020 the Serious Violence Unit (SVU) was established to target gang leaders and County Line Gangs. Between the 1st April; 2020 and the 25th March 2021 the work of the SVU has resulted in 288 arrests, 268 people have been charged so far, £300,082 of cash has been seized and £598,000 worth of drugs. The success of the unit has led to further investment and growth being planned for 2021- 2022.