Nick Alston welcomes local policing plans
I welcome the plans announced by Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh to introduce a new model for local policing which will ensure high levels of local responsibility for responding to and investigating crime and ASB incidents. Against the challenging background of ongoing pressure on police budgets, I also welcome the continuing commitment to close working with local partners to keep our communities safe.
As I’ve travelled round Essex meeting and talking with the people of our county, it is clear how highly local officers, PCSOs and police staff are valued. The Chief’s plan will ensure that there will still be neighbourhood constables and PCSOs. Crucially though, these neighbourhood teams will be supported by 500 more officers being moved into local policing roles, providing a real continuity of local service to victims of crime.
The Essex Police Evolve team has spent several months carefully analysing the demand patterns for policing over a four year period. This evidence has led the Chief Constable and the Chief Officer team to decide to re-balance the current deployment of resources by reducing the number of officers and police staff in some centralised specialist functions such as roads policing, public order and firearms, and placing more officers in local policing.
Essex Police will retain well balanced and highly trained specialist units with the capability to respond to serious incidents, and to deploy firearms officers rapidly when required.
I am conscious that the most recent figures show that there was an increase in the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads of almost 7 per cent comparing the year to March 2014 with the previous year. As the new policing model has been developed, analysis has shown that Essex Police currently has more than twice as many officers working in a dedicated roads policing role compared with a similarly sized force such as Kent Police. The Chief Constable is confident that these changes will allow for a more focused commitment to roads policing. As Police and Crime Commissioner, I am committed to ensuring that there is re-energised working between Essex Police, the Highways Agency, Essex County Council and all partner agencies to improve the safety of our roads. All of us who drive on the roads of Essex have our own role to play in ensuring that we drive safely and responsibly.
Reducing domestic abuse is an area of focus in the Police and Crime Plan, and remains a priority for Essex Police. This new policing model will see the introduction of dedicated domestic abuse teams in the three Local Policing Areas of Essex. This will ensure a strong combination of specialist and local knowledge as Essex Police works with partner agencies in tackling domestic abuse with increasing professionalism.
The reduction of around sixty specialist policing posts will generate year on year savings of about £3 million for Essex Police. However, I am delighted that in addition to the 77 new student officers who joined Essex Police in 2013-14, a further 37 join today, on May 19, and there will be further recruitment during the year. This shows a commitment to and confidence in using existing resources in a professional, evidence-based fashion, to deliver highly effective policing whilst ensuring that the next generation of officers is recruited and developed.
Extensive work continues to ensure that Essex Police investment in its people, its estate and technology, is building firm foundations for the future. At the very heart of the Chief Constable’s policing model is the creation of strong, knowledgeable, local policing teams. I believe this strengthens our commitment to keeping communities safe, and I hope these plans will be welcomed by the people of Essex.
Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex
Full details of the Essex Police announcement can be seen here.