#MakeADifference Local, Visible Accessible Policing – Update from Roger Hirst, Police, Fire & Commissioner for Essex
“Local, visible accessible policing remains an important priority within the Police and Crime Plan and is an area where Essex has been leading the country.
Essex Police has been independently recognised by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Fire and Rescue Authorities as an efficient force that offers good value for money. Following a detailed and robust analysis of Essex Police and demand in the county, the Chief Constable and I were convinced that to offer the service the people of Essex wanted from their police and to deal with the increased demand being seen across the country it was necessary to secure additional resources.
We have delivered the funding for more police officers
Taking evidence developed in Essex, I was appointed finance lead for Police and Crime Commissioners across the country and led the work with the Home Office and Treasury to secure additional funding for policing nationally. This work secured the first increase in police funding in seven years.
Over this year alone the benefits of this increase have been shown – 150 officers have been recruited, trained and deployed within communities in Essex already. Numbers are growing and in July Essex Police launched dedicated town centre policing teams in 23 locations across the county. These 58 police constables supported by their sergeants, will become the beating hearts of their communities, tackling the most prominent issues, making for a safer county and stronger relationships with the public and local businesses.
My national role has continued in 2018-2019 and resulted in a further investment in policing. This is being raised through an increase in the local element of council tax during 2019-2020 allowing for public transparency in the process. This will result in a further increase of 215 officers in the total establishment for the force.
It is expected that these officers will be recruited, trained and deployed throughout 2019-2020 with final deployment being completed by April 2020. By this stage, the number of officers will be more than 3200 and at a level that the original analysis showed would provide a sustainable foundation to tackle demand. The Government has also recently pledged a further 20,000 extra police officers for the country. In Essex, that could mean an extra 400 to 500 more officers on top of the 3200. This funding from the Government is good news and will make a huge difference to our county.
At the same time as recruiting more officers there is continuing work to improve the efficiency of the Force. We have provided the investment needed for new technology and improvements in systems and processes as part of the Mobile First Programme. This is helping to ensure officers and staff are as effective and efficient as they can be and has saved each officer 28 minutes per shift so far with more savings anticipated. Officers need to be spending as much time as possible out in the communities. Now they are able to complete basic reporting and admin while they are visible and without having to waste time returning to stations. Processes are now as efficient as possible, using technology to free up officers time and allow them to do more of the highly visible work our communities want.
We have set an ambitious goal for more Special Constables working in your communities
The growth in officers has also been matched by the significant growth in the Special Constabulary. We committed to doubling the Special Constabulary and there has been significant progress towards achieving this goal. This year, Essex became both the fastest growing Special Constabulary in the country and the second largest, with the Metropolitan Police Force’s Special Constabulary being the only one in the country with more officers.
* Essex Police Special Constabulary grew by 21 per cent or 93 additional officers
* Special Constables have contributed 172,556 hours – 34 per cent more than the previous year
* Out of the total hours contributed, 68,952 hours were in high visibility roles such as local patrols in communities – a 54 per cent increase compared to the previous year
This growth is especially impressive given the huge recruitment of regular officers and the understandable decision by many Specials Constables to apply and secure positions as full time officers. In fact, it is a sign of how far Essex Police has come in recent years that having joined the Special Constabulary so many officers decide to become full time officers. The good news is that the Force are not losing Specials, by becoming regular officers it is securing their skills, knowledge and expertise here in Essex.
The work being carried out to expand the Special Constabulary is another example of the excellent partnership approach being taken across the county. Last year we launched the Community Special Programme at the Essex Association of Local Councils. This initiative creates a partnership between Parish or Town Councils and Essex Police where the Council help recruit and partially fund the training of a Special Constable and then, once they have been trained, are deployed within that local community. This has been hugely popular with Parish and Town Councils across Essex with 28 signing up and Community Specials deployed in various locations across the county.
The Employer Supported Policing initiative is a way for businesses to support their staff to contribute as Special Constables within the community. This helps their communities by providing a stronger policing presence and is helping the individuals and businesses involved by provide excellent training and development opportunities. During the year, the number of Special Constables supported through the Employer Supported Policing initiative has grown to 73, an increase of 28 officers.
Essex Police has also continued to grow the Police Cadet Scheme, which includes a number of young people referred by schools and other organisations. By the end of the financial year, there were 297 active cadets in 10 units across the county. These young people had completed around 25,000 hours of voluntary work supporting public awareness campaigns, providing advice and support direct to communities, and participating in training and parades. Three further units are due to open in Brentwood, Harwich and Uttlesford in early 2019-2020. Of those cadets who have reached the age of 18 and left the scheme two have gone on to become Special Constables and a further two have gone into jobs with the Force. By the end of 2019, it is anticipated the total number of cadets across the county will reach 400.
The Active Citizen scheme has also continued to provide a really useful service for the community. There are now 100 Active Citizens across the county each volunteering on average three hours per week making a combined contribution of 3,000 hours over the year.
In 2017, Essex Police launched its first Public Engagement Strategy with each district developing local plans to understand and systematically engage with their communities. This has led to a significant increase in engagement across the county with a range of innovative and creative engagement approaches being taken, from Street Weeks in Colchester to Coffee with Cops in Harlow. This ongoing engagement is contributing to a gradual increase in the confidence that the public have in Essex Police and while more work is required it is very promising to see these initiatives having an impact.
There is more to be done and we are not complacent but you can see how we are able to #MakeADifference. Now I’d ask you to #MakeADifference and tell us what you want from your police force for the next four years so we can shape our next Police and Crime Plan.”
You can fill in our survey online.
Hard copies of the survey are also available in local libraries or you can call the office on 01245 291600 to request one.”
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner for Essex