Get Involved in 2014
It’s a New Year, and there’s plenty of good news. Crime figures comparing April to November 2013 with the same period for 2012 are encouraging, with a reduction in all crime across the county of 1.9 per cent, and an increase in the number of crimes solved from 26.1 to 29.2 per cent.
House burglary, a crime which can cause significant distress to victims, is down by 3.9 per cent across Essex, although some ‘hot spots’ remain where areas continue to suffer increasing numbers of burglaries.
It is also clear that 2014 will bring its share of challenges and opportunities. It will be an especially important time for Essex Police, with the force facing the need to make further efficiency savings of around 3.5 per cent year on year for the next three years. As Police and Crime Commissioner, I am determined to provide the people of Essex with opportunities to have their say about the challenges and the changes that will be made during the course of 2014.
I held two meetings in each of the fourteen district and unitary authority areas of our county during 2013, and our first public meetings this year have been arranged for Southend on January 17, Basildon on February 18 and Hockley on March 13. The concerns and issues voiced by local people at these meetings really matter to me, and sometimes the result is that a good local solution is identified and implemented. For instance, the issue of street racing on Roscommon Way in Canvey Island was raised at our public meetings in Castle Point, and I’m delighted that joint working between Essex County Council, the Local Highways Panel, Essex Police and the Castle Point Regeneration Partnership means that CCTV cameras will be installed on the road in coming months.
I’ve also created a quarterly meeting called the Essex Police Challenge at which both I and members of the public can ask questions directly of Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh in front of an audience. You can watch the Essex Police Challenge meetings of August and November last year on the PCC website, and the next event will take place on February 27, at the Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford. The entire two-hour session will be dedicated to a discussion of local policing, and will address major issues such as:
– how can Essex Police best use its officers, PCSOs and staff to keep communities safe?
– how can demand on police time best be managed, recognising that certain categories of incident – for instance, safely managing people with mental health problems or searching for missing people – can involve considerable use of police resources?
– how can we all work together to prevent crime even more effectively?
– how can Essex Police maintain maximum visibility in the streets and countryside of Essex?
Both Chief Constable Kavanagh and I have committed to a series of core principles to guide us through these challenging times, and they can be read here.
In those core principles, we state that PCSOs will remain an integral part of the local policing model in our county. Essex Police has recently taken the decision to stop match-funding of PCSOs, and this is to ensure that these highly valued community officers can be deployed to the areas that most need them, when they need them. The force is currently assessing local demand across the county, and PCSOs will then be allocated to areas accordingly, ensuring that the local knowledge they have often spent years acquiring is preserved wherever possible. In addition, local councils and parish councils will retain the ability to fully fund a PCSO in their area.
However, this matter and the recent decision to disband the Marine Unit and reduce the size of the Essex Police Dog Unit from 52 to 40 dogs, highlight the nature and scale of the challenges we face.
I would encourage everyone who cares about keeping Essex safe to get involved in our public meetings, and to contact me or your local representatives and police officers about the issues that matter to you.