For me, safe and secure communities are the bedrock on which we build wellbeing and prosperity for all – communities which are not only well policed, but where we all play a role in making sure criminals have no scope to thrive. We watch out for the vulnerable and help the police when we can.
The Police and Crime Plan aims to make sure that wherever possible we prevent crime from happening in the first place; that the police service is so close to the community people feel confident that officers know what is going on and that serious harm and recurrent issues of concern are being dealt with; and that the police are open to support through volunteering and easy and effective communication so we all know how and where we can help. Living in a society where we do not need to fear crime matters to us all.
With our partners in a series of workshop sessions, and with the public in meetings and an on-line survey, we have put together seven key priorities where the police can work with others to create a safer Essex. Each of the priorities is backed by a series of commitments to action. You will see a real difference over the coming months as we work to double the size of the Special Constabulary; arm all of our front-line officers with smartphones and other improved technologies such as body-worn video, so they can spend more time out on patrol and gather evidence more effectively; and foster community safety hubs in each of the districts and unitaries across the county so we can share intelligence and intervene early to keep people safe. I am pleased that our priorities received the support of over 80% of those who responded to our survey, with 92% endorsing the push for more local, visible and accessible policing.
In many ways the plan builds on the successes of the past few years. Working with partners in the voluntary sector, social care and the health service, Essex Police has become much better at helping victims come forward and seek support. We have seen people become much more willing to report domestic abuse and sexual abuse, both of which are important areas of focus within the plan, the latter being reflected in a number of different priorities. When I have been out and about with the police I have been truly impressed with how they respond so rapidly and effectively in a crisis situation, both in dealing with the perpetrator and in supporting victims and witnesses. The plan looks to build on this and find new ways to work with partners to help victims and keep vulnerable people safe from harm.
Of course all of this, plus the growth in new challenges from internet and hate crime, means that policing resources will continue to be stretched. It is part of my role to make sure that Essex Police is fairly funded, both from the council tax and by central government. You can be confident that we will make the most efficient use of the resources we have available. We will push forward with the rationalisation of the police estate and use the proceeds to make sure we operate out of the most effective facilities and invest in new technologies which will enhance the way we work. At the same time we will look for new ways to collaborate with other public services such as Fire & Rescue and neighbouring forces, so we can deliver the best possible service to the public.
The next few years will continue to see considerable changes in the way we deliver community safety across our county. I believe we have a Police & Crime Plan here which will guide us through those changes so that you are able to have increasing confidence in your safety and the safety of your family as you go about your lives and business.
Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex