Having your say in Southend
The first ever Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) public meeting was held in Southend-on-Sea and Nick Alston was pleased with both the attendance and the lively debate.
Joining the PCC in answering questions from an audience of over 70 local people during the early evening of Wednesday January 30th were local Inspector Brad Dickel and Southend-on-Sea Community Safety Manager Simon Ford. They were supported by key colleagues such as Supt Nick Morris and the council Chief Executive, Rob Tinlin.
PCC Alston said: “It is essential that local people know the facts about crime and anti-social behaviour in their area, and have the opportunity to raise issues with the teams responsible for keeping their communities safe.”
Between April 1st and December 31st, 2012, all crime has dropped in Southend district by 3.8 percent compared with the same period in 2011, meaning there have been 378 fewer victims of crime. During the same period, house burglary has risen by 9.3 percent, 56 more burglaries, and street robbery by just over 18 percent with a total of 34 more offences. The meeting learnt that many of the robberies were the actions of a known local gang, with links to drug dealing. Police action in response to these offences, and other drug dealing activities in and around the town centre, resulted in 27 arrests during the first six months of the year and a number of individuals being imprisoned.
Responding to questions from the audience suggesting that not all criminals were treated equally by Essex Police, PCC Alston made it clear that the force will pursue all crime regardless of the background of the criminals. On behalf of Essex Police, Supt Nick Morris reinforced this important principle.
The meeting also learnt of some of the excellent work being undertaken by groups such as Community Circle and Block Watch, a joint initiative between Essex Police, South Essex Homes, and Southend Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership, to increase the interaction between residents and officers empowering local people to become actively involved in their community.
PCC Alston said: “I’m absolutely committed to learning more about grassroots initiatives to make communities safer. The Southend Multi-Agency Response Team (SMART) has been very successful in responding to local problems with meaningful solutions. I want to support the best projects, financially if I can, and ensure that effective solutions are shared across the county. Some of the work in Southend is exemplary.”
Another topic of lively debate was anti-social cycling on pavements and in pedestrian areas. The overriding view was that it was important to encourage responsible cycling, and all the partners committed to continuing to educate riders with regard to safe cycling habits.
PCC Alston added: “We’re aiming to go to every district in Essex twice a year, drawing attention to the issues that matter to local people in a lively and informed fashion. In addition, the first ever Police and Crime Plan is out for public consultation until February 12th and I want to hear your views.”
You can read and comment on the draft Police and Crime Plan here.
The next PCC public meeting will be take place on Friday February 8th, from 12 noon to 2pm, at:
St George’s Suite, the Basildon Centre, St Martin’s Square, Basildon SS14 1DL