Keeping Clacton safe
Nick Alston believes enforcement and education are keys to tackling crime in our communities.
The newly elected Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Essex visited Clacton on Friday December 14, and met with the district’s police commanders, Councillors from Tendring District Council, including leader Peter Halliday and local MPs Douglas Carswell and Bernard Jenkin.
There have been a number of high profile incidents involving knives and other offensive weapons in Clacton in recent times, and these have sadly resulted in one fatality and several serious injuries. More encouragingly, the overall number of recorded incidents involving a knife or sharp instrument has reduced by 52 percent, meaning 24 fewer incidents, comparing April to October 2012 with the same period in 2011.
The PCC said: “In addition to being tough on criminals we need to put crime into a true perspective and understand the issues which cause it. There’s some excellent work being conducted by anti-knife crime organisations such as Only Cowards Carry, started by Caroline Shearer, the mother of Jay Whiston, who was tragically murdered in Colchester, and Knifecrimes.org where Ann Oakes-Odger is running an important initiative in Jaywick.
“I met with Caroline and her husband Michael last week, and I share their determination to ensure that young people are educated about the dangers of carrying a knife, and that the entire criminal justice system deals with knife crime robustly. Good education and strong enforcement of the law are both essential.
“My meeting in Clacton comes on the back of news that three young men from the area were recently jailed for a total of nine years for the armed robbery of a post office in Holland-on-Sea. For the sake of stealing a few pounds, these men will be separated from their loved ones for a long time. The impact on them and those close to them will be significant and lasting. There must be swift and sure justice to deal with these serious crimes, and I will be pressing for more tough enforcement.”
At the meeting in Clacton, Tendring District Commander Cat Barrie emphasised that Essex Police deals robustly with anyone found carrying an offensive weapon, and it is not the policy of Essex Police to issue a caution to a person in these circumstances. She also drew attention to the fact that since early August this year, police have used powers five times under Section 60 of Criminal Justice Public Order Act 1994, enabling them to stop and search people where they have intelligence suggesting that significant violence was likely. These powers were used for 24 or 48 hour periods, and were highly effective in ensuring violent offences did not take place.
Nick Alston said: “Clearly Section 60 powers are an important part of the tactics that police can use to disrupt violent crime, but officers also need the help of the community to keep our streets as safe as possible. If you learn of a violent incident that might be about to occur, please let Essex Police know, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 if you feel the need to remain anonymous.”
It is also clear that alcohol abuse is a key factor in some of the violent crime in the area. Recent changes to legislation have led to police forces across the country playing a less active role in the granting and review of licenses for pubs, clubs and restaurants. In Tendring, the district council and police licensing teams work closely together.
The PCC said: “We all want Clacton to have a thriving and vibrant economy, with welcoming places to eat, drink and have a good night out. We also want Clacton to continue to be a safe place, and I will be encouraging tough action against promotions which encourage binge drinking and the excessive consumption of alcohol. Supermarkets and off licenses also need to behave responsibly.”
The PCC will continue to keep a close eye on developments in Clacton, and is committed to ensuring that everyone in the community works together as effectively as possible to reduce offending and to secure swift justice for criminals in one of the county’s most cherished seaside towns.