Talking Tilbury, Talking Thurrock
A lively public meeting in Tilbury meant that the residents from across the Thurrock area could speak directly with the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex about the subjects that matter to them most.
The two-hour meeting was held on 3rd April at the Gateway Academy in Tilbury, Thurrock’s District Commander Chief Inspector Ben Hodder, Inspector Lee Argent, Inspector Leigh Norris and Lucy Magill, Chair of Community Safety Partnership (CSP) & Head of Public Protection at Thurrock Council, discussed a range of community safety topics with an audience of over 40 people.
Chief Insp Hodder was able to inform the meeting that the very latest figures, comparing April 2013 to March 2014 with the previous year, showed a reduction in all reported crime of over 4 per cent, or 481 offences. House burglary was also significantly down, by around 12 per cent, during the same period, in part due to Operation Insight tactics which led to significant partnership work in “burglary hotspot” areas. In addition, there was strong police operational work seeking to prevent known burglars from committing further crimes.
The audience were keen to know how many burglaries were solved, and Chief Insp Hodder stated that the current “solved rate” for dwelling burglary in Thurrock district was 12.5 per cent.
The PCC added that the reduction in the overall number of burglaries was impressive and welcome, and encouraged the police team to continue to seek to bring prolific burglars to justice. He also encouraged everyone to ensure that they kept their home secure, to help prevent opportunistic crime.
One member of the audience had recently been a victim of a crime where her car keys were taken by a burglar and then used to steal her car. Inspector Andy Masson from Port of Tilbury Police talked about the work to recover vehicles from shipping containers, and the importance of intelligence. Insp Masson said there was excellent cooperation between his team, regional ports and local forces such as Essex Police. He also encouraged local people to report any suspicious activity. He added that once police and customs investigations had identified criminal activity, it was often possible to reunite stolen vehicles with their rightful owners.
The meeting was informed of a significant decrease in car crime: comparing March 2013 to February 2014 with the same period in 2012-13, thefts from vehicles had dropped by 78 crimes, whilst 166 fewer cars had been stolen.
There were questions about HGV truck drivers parking overnight in Thurrock, and the police and CSP confirmed that discussions were taking place regarding possible new parking sites. Insp Norris stated that some of the drivers were foreign nationals. He and his team had provided crime prevention advice in over a dozen languages and this was having an impact on theft from lorries.
Another local concern was the noise nuisance caused by quad bikes and similar motorised bikes. Insp Argent stressed the importance of community intelligence to help tackle this problem, but told the meeting that section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 grants police the power, after a warning has been issued, to seize vehicles being driven in “a manner which causes alarm, distress or annoyance”.
A number of other issues were the subject of lively discussion, including the problem of loose horses, parking on pavements and verges, and how best to contact your local policing team. Nick Alston stated that whilst 101 was generally a quality service, concerns about individual incidents were regularly raised at his public meetings. He urged everyone to continue to report information to Essex Police using 101, or the local community beat mobile using the numbers published on the force website.
A discussion on hate crime took place at the end of the session and Pc Lisa Brodie, a specialist Hate Crime Investigator, explained the difference between a hate crime and a hate incident (where offence has been taken but was not intended). The meeting agreed that the increase in reported hate crime and hate incidents was to be welcomed because it enables the underlying issues to be better understood and tackled.
Members of the public stayed to talk with the speakers afterwards, and the general feeling was that the meeting had been valuable.