Out on patrol in South Essex – Roger Hirst experiences an evening of front line policing
“Over the last three years, since being elected as your Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, I have spent a huge amount of time immersed in community safety work. Alongside the police, the fire and rescue service and our partners across Essex I have focused on how, together we can make our communities safer. In my role that means looking at how the police service and fire and rescue service are performing, looking at ways to improve what they do and how they do it, encouraging innovation and collaboration and looking at how we solve some of the challenges we face as a county so we can make the lives of those who live in Essex better.
“I have also learnt that to fully understand the service and the challenges our officers and firefighters face I have to go beyond the reports, the senior officers and the spreadsheets and get out and spend time with our teams on the ground by experiencing what they experience and see what is happening on the street in our communities. Last year my deputy, Jane Gardner, and I did well over 100 public engagements and met thousands of people from communities across Essex. We also met hundreds of police officers, fire fighters and partners. These conversations and experiences are vital in the work we do and our ability to stay connected to our communities and our services.
“Since being elected, I have regularly undertaken patrols across the county alongside operational officers, responding to incidents, investigating crime and keeping people safe. My most recent tour of duty was last Tuesday night, when I had the pleasure of spending an evening out on patrol in the south of our county mainly around Rochford and Basildon. During the shift, we responded to emergencies reported to the force control room, stopped a driver we believed was driving on false plates and with no insurance, helped find a missing person and supported somebody experiencing a significant mental health crisis. The shift was non-stop and I was proud to see how well the various officers involved from different teams worked so closely together and to note the thanks and appreciation they received from members of the public that they strive so hard to protect.
“What always strikes me is the huge breadth of the work our police officers do and how well they do it. From responding to a potentially serious situation where you don’t know what you will find when you get there to taking the opportunity to stop somebody when something doesn’t just look right. Each of these is important and we ask and expect officers to do it all. Thankfully in Essex we have a good police service with dedicated and hard working officers committed to their communities. We also have officers, police staff and volunteers who care; people who work hard to find and protect vulnerable people in our community, who support people when they are at their lowest and need help.
“They all deserve our thanks for the work they do and I know from the many public meetings I attend each year that like me you share the respect I have for officers and the service, but I also know that like me you want to see more officers, more visible in our communities. Put simply, we want more.
“Since 2016 I have been working hard with our services, our partners and with the support of our MPs to get more. While it hasn’t been easy it is working and we are starting to see the difference. In 2018-2019 we secured the first increase in police funding nationally in seven years. For Essex that meant another 153 officers. Those were trained, deployed and in your communities by March this year. With your support we are in the process of recruiting a further 215 officers over this year. By April 2020 we will have another 368 officers on our streets and we will have a force with over 3200 officers. This is a big increase and it will make a difference.
“In the Basildon District this will mean an extra 30 officers across the Community Policing Team and Local Policing Team. It will mean new Town Centre Teams in Basildon, Billericay and Wickford with eight officers and a sergeant in total. Once these officers are in, we may need more and if we do, I will work hard to get more. In the Rochford District this will mean an extra 18 officers with Town Centre Teams in Rochford, Rayleigh and Canvey Island.
“Three years ago, when I was elected you told me you wanted more local, visible policing and we are delivering that. We are not just talking, we are not just complaining, we are rolling up our sleeves, we are getting into the detail and together we are delivering.”
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex