Getting Crime Down

As Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner (PFCC) for Essex I will ensure that Essex Police sees more investment in its capability to prevent crime and get crime down, and that Essex County Fire & Rescue is supported to protect people and prevent fires, flood hazards and road traffic collisions. 

Essex Police is now bigger and stronger than ever before in its 185 year history. Over the last eight years as your PFCC I have funded the expansion of Essex Police by 905 officers, to 3,755, with the backing of the government’s Police Uplift Programme and your support. As a result, crime is now falling. Last year, total crime was reduced by 6%, and anti-social behaviour (ASB) by 38%. ASB is now 70% lower than it was in 2016, and murder and burglary are both down by over 40%.

But this is just a start. The additional officers will enable the force to make a strategic shift to prevention, in line with our long-term vision. Through targeted hotspot programmes, through early intervention, identifying and protecting vulnerable people, and firm action to deal with known offenders and tackle drug gangs and County Lines, my aim is to see crime reduced by a further 40% over the next few years. Safer streets investments in CCTV, lighting and support groups will make our public spaces be and feel safer for women and girls. 

Essex Police has become an innovative police service. Our police were the first in the country to pilot the ASB and serious violence hotspot tactics which have been so successful. We were the first to roll out a Violence and Vulnerability Partnership to divert young people from the risk of being preyed on by drug gangs. Under new legislation we had the first successful prosecution for dealing in nitrous oxide and the first one for cyber flashing.

The next phase will see further investment in technology. We will roll out live facial recognition equipment to take known offenders off our streets, and use Artificial Intelligence to take more offenders successfully through the courts.

To help allocate resources most effectively, I will encourage Essex Police to use crime harm scores, looking at concentrations and prevalence of crime as well as the level of harm from each offence. It is not enough simply to reduce the number of crimes in the county: we must also bring down the harm it causes. 

Neighbourhood Policing will be strengthened as more of our new officers complete their training and can be deployed in our communities. Now we have the resources, we must ringfence our Town Centre Teams and Community Policing Teams and make sure they are able to crack down on burglary, on car theft and on shoplifting, and keep our residents safe in each of our communities. This means more visible policing, with more police on the streets. Our Rural Engagement Team must be strengthened further to support our isolated communities and make sure our successes in reducing unlawful encampments, hare coursing and equipment theft are not eroded. I will ensure that Police and Fire & Rescue continue to protect those in rural areas and keep businesses safer and free from crime.

Making our roads safer is important to all of our residents. Working through the Safer Essex Roads partnership, both Police and Fire & Rescue must act to implement Vision Zero, our programme to reduce road deaths in Essex to zero by 2040. Driver education will improve skills on the road, and new technology will ensure enforcement against those who will not learn. 

Community involvement matters so much in keeping our county safe and making sure the emergency services are plugged in to what makes a difference to residents’ lives. Volunteers play a vital role. We now have the second largest Special Constabulary in the country, but we can do more to bolster our Community Specials, and I will. 

The positive impact of crime prevention and solving more crimes is increasing levels of public confidence in the local police. In the latest quarter, our independently run public perception survey found that confidence among local communities in Essex Police is running at 77%, only slightly lower than the highs seen during the Covid-19 pandemic.

To make our county safer we must make a strategic commitment to prevention, a shift in main effort from rapid response into a model of targeted prevention and early intervention, in both Policing and in the Fire & Rescue Service. We need to help and protect those who are vulnerable and at risk, deliver effective interventions based on evidence, and work in partnership with our communities to identify where people are most exposed and keep them safe. Safe communities are the bedrock on which we build prosperity and wellbeing for everyone. Please give me your support, and together we can get crime down.