More residents living in rural areas are getting crime prevention advice and support from the emergency services, thanks to the introduction of a new community officer.
The first Tri-Service Rural Community Officer has been embedded in the communities that make up the Dengie for the last 15 months.
Representing Essex Police, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, and the East of England Ambulance Service, Les Davis has been on hand to get to know the residents, their needs and concerns.
With his vast knowledge, he provides a highly visible presence to the public, offering reassurance and guidance, as well as gathering intelligence to feed back to the police and sitting on committees such as the suicide prevention group.
He also acts as a Community First Responder and can reach and treat patients before an ambulance arrives in the rural locations.
James Taylor, Area Manager for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, is the fire service lead for the project.
He said: “It’s important that our rural communities feel supported by our emergency services. The Tri-Service Rural Community Officer is there to raise the visibility of the emergency services and offer support and advice.
“It is a very varied role. As well as working with partner agencies such as parish councils and the National Farmers’ Union, he puts activities in place to keep people safe, reduce crime, raise the profile of all the services, and to promote health and wellbeing. There are so many benefits to this collaborative style of working.
The collaborative role has seen 25 per cent more residents receive an at-home safe and well visit, previously carried out by the fire service.
James said: “The difference this role has made is a lot in terms of the number of safe and well visits people have received. Les has been able to make sure residents are safe in their homes and has spoken about crime prevention and fire safety, as well as signposting them to agencies which can help them further. We have seen a real rise in the number of people referred for and receiving these visits.
“We now have one person who is trained in fire, police and health and wellbeing, with a vast knowledge of the community and who has built real in-depth links with residents. They know who to turn to if they have questions. The people who need our help the most are unlikely to be the people who come along to our fire station open days or contact police community officers. The community know who their neighbours are and who needs help but may not have previously known who to go to for support.
“Now, they have someone who is embedded in their community who not only has a wealth of experience but is also passionate. He goes above and beyond daily for the community.”
Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, Roger Hirst said: “Supporting residents living in our rural communities is a key focus in my Police and Crime Plan and my Fire and Rescue Plan. I am delighted that this scheme has been a success in making a difference to health, wellbeing and safety in our rural communities.
“From the discussions I had with residents in our rural communities it was clear that a role like this would help people in some of the areas of our county, which because of their geography, can sometimes feel isolated.”
The community engagement and crime prevention role has proven so successful, it will be rolled out to the Uttlesford district next year.
In Uttlesford, the new officer’s responsibilities will be similar, with an added focus on area specific issues, such as frequent 999 callers.