Reducing drug driven violence
Police are seeing their investment having a positive impact on violent crime in Essex.
With an investment in the Essex Police Serious Violence Unit and the Serious Crime Directorate, as well as the recruitment of 30 officers into the teams, better cases are being presented to court and more weapons, drugs, money and criminals are being taken off the streets for longer.
The increase in enforcement saw more than 100 weapons and £569,000 seized in 2021, while 97 vulnerable people were identified and safeguarded and 37 people were referred for support as suspected victims of modern day slavery.
Comparing the 12 months to August 2021 to the average over the previous three years:
- arrests increased from an average of 429 a year to 625
- charges were brought to 578 people, compared to an average of 315
- convictions were secured on 92.5% of those charged, compared to 73.4%
- an average sentence of 4.9 years was secured, compared to 14 months
Violent crime accounts for about half of all crime in Essex, so the fight continues to bring the figures down further, whether that be by bringing serial and vicious perpetrators to justice, taking weapons and drugs off the streets, or by protecting and supporting those at risk.
Drug-driven violence is behind 40 per cent of the homicides, while also being a significant cause of serious violence and knife crime.
Gangs that exploit people and coerce them into a life of crime are preying on some of the most vulnerable people in society.
Therefore, there is a focus on cracking down on drug-driven violence, knife crime and gangs, protecting the vulnerable people gangs prey on and dealing with the hardened criminals whose activities increase violence in communities.
The strategy to tackle drug-driven violence has been to invest both in prevention, through the Violence and Vulnerability Partnership, and enforcement, by working with the National Crime Agency and investing in the Essex Police Serious Violence Unit.
Data shows the level of violence related to drugs is falling or steady across the county, the number of County Line related homicides are at their lowest level of several years and the level of risk associated with County Lines has fallen since October 2021.
One tactic developed in Essex, and picked up by central government, is short, targeted high visibility patrols, identifying hotspots of street violence.
In Essex, 79 harm spots across seven towns were identified, with each receiving 15-minute, high visibility patrols at regular intervals over 266 days, resulting in a reduction in violence.
Vulnerability Community Safety Grants support organisations which engage with young, vulnerable people, providing counselling or therapeutic support, 1-2-1 coaching or increased provision of sports clubs and social activities.
The combined activities and collective approach to tackling the root causes of violence have started to turn the tide of violent crime in Essex.
You can read more about this work in our annual report.