Out and about in Essex
In the last few weeks I have continued to be out and about in the county learning and seeing more of the great work that goes on.
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting the ‘Transition 2 Adulthood’ alliance and the Barrow Cadbury Trust. These are organisations that use research and evidence to tackle offending by young adults. In the Police and Crime Plan for Essex, I have made youth offending and re-offending areas of focus and I am sure that when we intervene it must be consistent and joined up across all the police and criminal justice agencies. We have to be smart with the time and money we invest; I will be looking for strong evidence and outcome-driven proposals to support and promote good practice.
When I met with representatives from Stonewall, the charity that looks after and campaigns for the interests of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, I was encouraged by the detailed and thorough research that had been commissioned by them when looking at LGB victims of hate crime and domestic abuse. Financial constraints may have affected the LGB agenda in Essex Police recently, but I am encouraged by the police’s interaction with LGB and transsexual persons in Essex and the continuing resolve to be a good LGB employer. I will be supporting the diversity agenda strongly in the coming months.
Just after Easter, I had the pleasure of visiting the Operational Policing Command (OPC), the section of Essex Police that provides specialist response and frontline policing. One unit I visited were trained in ‘methods of entry’ and it was interesting to see some of the different techniques they employ!
I found it particularly sobering to meet the Serious Collision Investigation Unit who were busy collecting and analysing evidence as part of their investigation into a very recent fatal incident on the M25 near Thurrock. It is clear to me that when we had 616 killed or seriously injured on Essex roads in the last 12 months, more needs to be done to improve road safety. That is why it is an area of focus in my Police and Crime Plan.
My visit to the OPC was a timely reminder of the daily risks all Essex Police officers take on our behalf to keep us safe. Last July, Pc Ian Dibell died trying to protect the community he served proudly as an Essex Police officer. Even though he was off duty he acted with bravery and selflessness, attempting to calm a dangerous situation.
Later I visited Harlow to visit a community programme – YouthSportz– run by a volunteer Dominico Bergonzi.
Dom puts his own time and skills as a boxing coach into building valuable relationships with young people in the local community, some whom are vulnerable. It was good to see the local neighbourhood policing team in attendance – engaging with under 18s is more effective in a relaxed and informal environment.
As PCC it is concerning to see how serious offending can start at such a young age. I feel we should do so much more at an earlier stage to prevent what starts as mischief turning into malice and criminality.
I visited Loughton to see the ‘Prison? Me? No Way!’ project.
This initiative seeks to explore with schoolchildren the consequences of decisions they take as young people and what might befall them if they commit crime or anti-social behaviour. It also included a powerful session on domestic abuse.
Throughout the campaign I listened to residents across Essex saying they wanted more local policing. I have made it a theme of the Plan that policing should meet local needs: we need new initiatives and more support for local communities. So I was pleased to visit Basildon to help launch the Safer Streets pilot led by the local MP Stephen Metcalfe. This programme is a great example of the local community and businesses in the Felmores area working together to offer support and shelter to those who may fear crime. I want to support new community based initiatives that seek to make where we live and work both be and feel safer.