The Mayor introduced the Roger Hirst the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner, Chief Inspector Richard Melton, Justin Benson-Ryal from the Fire Service and Darren Horseman from the Office of the Police Fire and Crime to the meeting and asked they delivered their presentation which would then be followed by questions by Members. Roger Hirst updated Members on the following:
• Uplift Police funding had been received from central funding.
• Work would continue to build on previous good work.
• There were now 368 extra Police Officers currently being recruited.
• Following extra funding in 2018/19 and planning additional funding in 2019/20 there would be an extra 31 Police Officers in Thurrock.
• A further 135 extra Police Officers to be recruited as part of the first wave of the Government’s 20,000 officer programme.
• Budget would be funded from Central Government and Local Taxation.
• In March 2021 there would be over 3350 Police Officers.
• Essex had the fastest growing number of Special Constabulary.
Essex Police was the second largest force after the
• Partnership Working - Thurrock Council supported activities such as Operation Adaminaby, Operation Caesar and Operation Raptor.
• Violence and Vulnerability – Working with Thurrock schools, voluntary sectors, sports club and hospitals.
• Addressing Anti-Social Behaviour looking at additional activity across the borough, localised operations in Chadwell and Tilbury and the reduction in reported incidents.
• Essex Police was the envy of many services across the country.
• Additional funded Police Officers in Tilbury and Purfleet.
Roger Hirst stated he would be happy to answer any questions on the Fire Service and policies.
Members raised the following questions:
Councillor Allen: Would Roger Hirst wish to make any changes to a statement made in January 2019 with regards to lawless areas in the borough and was anti-social behaviour in Tilbury being tackled effectively? Roger Hirst stated there was absolutely no lawless or no-go areas in Thurrock. Chief Inspector Richard Melton confirmed no no-go areas had been reported and how essential it was for the Police to be made aware of incidents and questioned what areas were being referred to.
Councillor Lawrence: Following an incident by a rude member of reception staff at a Police station, how often are Police Station reception staff trained? Roger Hirst stated training was undertaken and he was disappointed to hear of the incident. Chief Inspector Richard Melton responded by agreeing it was unacceptable for residents to not receive a professional service and asked for details so he could respond outside the meeting.
Councillor Kerin: What was being undertaken to boost visible Police patrols on Grays High Street so residents could feel safe? Roger Hirst stated the new Town Centre Policing had come into effect in the summer 2019 to which more Police presence would be visible on the streets to reassure residents and with the introduction of step up patrols and stop and search. This number of Police Officers had increased from four to eight and work continued with the Council to address aggressive begging.
Councillor Little: What commitment could be given to improving the 101 non-emergency police service? Roger Hirst stated lots of work had been undertaken on the 101 service with improvements on waiting times down to the maximum wait time of under one hour and the average wait time down from half an hour to 11 minutes. Although big improvements had been made the service was not where it should be. Roger Hirst confirmed more investment, more lines and more co-ordination would be put into the 101 service but appealed to residents to continue to use the 101 service for non-emergency incidents or to use the on-line service which would then take the burden off the telephone lines.
Councillor Halden: With regard to county lines, what was in place to protect social services and housing from those drug dealers leaving London for other authorities? Roger Hirst stated at a board meeting held yesterday he had given feedback on the successes of partners working together. With an Essex initiative in place this would be driven forward with a three year programme in place to protect those county lines.
Councillor Holloway: Did Roger Hirst acknowledge that less Police Officers meant more crime? Roger Hirst stated that criminals caused crime not the Police. That policies were working, investments were being made and good services were being maintained compared to 10 years ago.
Councillor Collins: What changes had been put in place so that the human tragedy of the Essex lorry deaths did not occur again? Roger Hirst stated this was a tragic event which unfortunately was not just a crime that happened in Essex but nationally. It was important can to be done so it did not occur again. Roger Hirst commended Essex Police and the Fire Service who were first on the scene with over 500 officers being involved. What was already being done differently was closer collaboration with other forces; border control; review of IT; tracking of vehicles; heat monitors and sensors were now being used and refrigerator door seals were being monitored more.
Roger Hirst thanked Members for the opportunity to represent this evening and agreed to come back to Council.
The Mayor thanked, on behalf of the Chamber, Roger Hirst, Justin Benson-Ryal, Chief Inspector Richard Melton and Darren Horseman for their time this evening.
At 8.07pm, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst, Justin Benson-Ryal, Chief Inspector Richard Melton and Darren Horseman left the Council Chamber.
At 8.08pm, Councillor Lawrence left the Council Chamber.