Why engaging with the public of Essex matters
My ‘engagement charter’ is my commitment to the people of Essex of all the ways in which I will be available to you. It also aims to capture my commitment to learning from you so that I can better hold Essex Police to account on your behalf.
This has been developed through feedback from the public, community partners and groups over the last six months. You can read the charter in full here.
Engaging with the public, and partner agencies, is absolutely fundamental to the role of police and crime commissioner. It is about listening first, responding effectively and being led by you in the ways in which we communicate and engage, based on what you need.
In the last 21 months I have hosted over 40 local public meetings – at least two in every district in the county – as well as attending a plethora of other meetings including at women’s refuges, residents’ associations, parish councils, business forums, schools and youth clubs, minority ethnic, disability and mental health forums amongst many others. Every time I attend these meetings I gain a fuller understanding about the issues, ideas and concerns of people across Essex. This all supports my ability to monitor the delivery of my police and crime plan, support and influence our partners in the part they have to play, and build the performance and scrutiny framework I have developed for the Chief Constable and Essex Police.
Having held many of my own meetings across the county in the last 21 months, I have decided to change the way I meet with the public. Whilst many of my meetings were well attended and successful, the level of attendance was not always consistent. Therefore I have decided to link my meetings with those being held in each district by police, in order to ensure that I can still hear your thoughts, concerns and questions in relation to crime and policing whilst at the same time ensuring your local officers are meeting your needs and addressing any of those issues affecting your life. Before each of these meetings I will also now offer residents the opportunity to meet with me during one to one surgeries, ensuring people now have even more opportunity to engage with their PCC.
I will continue to host my Essex Police Challenge events – a quarterly meeting where I scrutinise the Chief Constable and provide an opportunity for the public to directly ask the Chief and me the questions that matter to them – which is the centrepiece of my scrutiny and engagement programmes. We’ve held Essex Police Challenge events in Chelmsford, Southend and Colchester, and will continue to make these important events accessible to communities across Essex.
Crucially, I will also continue to meet with victims’ groups and representatives, the voluntary sector, young people, the elderly, those suffering mental health problems, businesses, those living in rural areas, ethnic minority communities in Essex amongst others to ensure their views are being heard.
Ultimately, engagement presents Police and Crime Commissioners with a unique opportunity and profound responsibility: to ensure that the voice of the public is truly present and visible in decision making, that the police are accountable to the public first and foremost, and that all the practices my office, and Essex Police adopt, enable this approach. In short, the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners is a critical step in achieving democratic scrutiny and accountability in policing.
My team and I are working tirelessly to meet with and understand as many of the issues and needs of communities within the county, but we always want to do more. If you have an issue you want to raise, or would simply like me or a member of my team to understand more about your community, or of your work and the challenges you face around policing and community safety, please get in touch via my office.
Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex