The Deputy Mayor introduced the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst, Chief Inspector Claire Talbot, Justin Benson-Ryal, Station Manager, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and Assistant Director for Communications and Engagement, Darren Horsman to the meeting and asked that they deliver their presentation which would then be followed by questions by Members.
Roger Hirst updated Members on the following:
• Crime had become more complex with new crimes such as internet, fraud and hate.
• Familiar crimes such as violence with injury were a major concern.
• Essex crime rate was up 5% this year and needed to be addressed.
• Monitoring of hate crime rates and the effectiveness of this.
• Recruit 150 Police Officers from April 2018. 54 already passed out and deployed and working with local Police teams.
• Work continued with London Metropolitan and London Borough Police.
• Monitoring cross border crimes.
• Government were making the case to match fund this year for £970m in total for Policing in the United Kingdom.
• £500m from Central Government into central Policing and £300m for local Police forces.
• The match would be through council tax and be raised by £2 per month.
• With 365 Police Officers being recruited this time next year.
Roger Hirst updated Members on the Local, Visible and Accessible Policing with extra Police Officers from the 2018/19 funding to increase six Police Constables for Community Policing Team, six Police Constables for Local Policing Team and three Police Officers for the Domestic Violence Unit. That Essex Police had been the fastest growing rate of Special Constabularies and second in the country.
Roger Hirst stated that for Gangs and Violence an additional funding of £664,000 from the National Early Invention Fund had been sought.
Roger Hirst stated that the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service did not have the same pressures as the Police Service with a significant reduction in the number of fires in the last ten years. With 31% of incidents attended over the last five years were fires. The development of the Fire and Rescue Plan for 2019-24 was underway and encouraged involvement and feedback from Members.
Roger Hirst referred Members to the Fire and Rescue Plan Draft Priorities were:
• Prevention, protection and response
• Create a positive culture in the workplace
• Develop and broaden the roles and range of activities undertaken by the service
• Help the vulnerable stay safe
• Collaborate with our partners
• Improve safety on our roads
• Be Transparent, open and accessible
• Make best use of our resources
Members raised the following questions:
Councillor Smith: What strategies were in place for the 101 service. Roger Hirst stated that the waiting times were down from 29 to 13 minutes but agreed the service needed to slicker and the service was working on it.
Councillor Spillman: Essex had been quoted as having the lowest funding per head of population of any Police force in the country and questioned whether this was still the case; if so, what improvements had been made and where was Essex on the league table now. Roger Hirst stated improvements had been made and Essex was no longer at the bottom but in the bottom quarter. Roger Hirst stated that it would take time to get where Essex should be and that a new fairer formula was being introduced in 2021.
Councillor Cherry: Thanked Roger Hirst for the presentation and questioned how residents can get in touch with their Neighbourhood Police Officer and invited Mr Hirst to attend a Neighbourhood Watch meeting on the 6 February in Tyrrells Hall. Mr Hirst stated that it was good Members were promoting the Neighbourhood Watch initiative and would check his calendar for availability. Claire Talbot echoed Mr Hirst comment’s and would ensure that a member of the team was in attendance.
Councillor Jefferies: Questioned the consistency of the S61 against unauthorised encampments. Roger Hirst stated efforts were being made to standardise the approach taken and stated that copies of the protocol had been sent to all Councils.
Councillor Redsell: What had been done to combat nuisance motor and quad bikes and what successes had there been. Claire Talbot stated the Police had a great partnership with the Council with a good success rate of arrests, warnings for no insurance and possession of cannabis. Claire Talbot stated that if Councillor Redsell had an area where nuisance bikes took place to let her know.
Councillor Allen: Questioned whether keeping anti-social behaviour under control would stop some cases of anti-social behaviour escalating into more serious crime. Roger Hirst agreed that there had to be a change in focus and to stop the smaller crimes and to divert young people into other activities. Roger Hirst stated he was proud that anti-social behaviour was down but agreed there was still a long way to go but the system was working.
Councillor Hamilton: Questioned whether there was any way of estimating the true report figures on the basis that some crimes were not being reported. Roger Hirst stated the Crime Integrity was a factor that looked into this detail with Essex not fairing too badly. Roger Hirst stated it was hard to guess what the Police don’t know with third party surveys being undertaken to monitor such cases.
Councillor Hamilton: Were there any plans to re-open the closed Police stations to restore resident’s confidence. Roger Hirst stated what would give residents confidence would be to see Police in the community and would not be spending millions on buildings but spending millions on Police Officers.
Councillor Lawrence: Could the issues of anti-social behaviour be addressed on Derwent Parade and surrounding areas. Claire Talbot stated the Police were aware of issues and work had being undertaken and with the increase of high visibility of Police patrolling.
Councillor Anderson: Questioned whether the Corringham Fire Station would continue to have permanent Police presence. Roger Hirst stated that Police needed somewhere to rest, have secure lockers and a place to get paper work done. That good feedback had been received with more visibility patrols. It was the aim to roll out to 10 to 12 fire stations in the county but would not revert back to the old fashion Police facilities.
Councillor Okunade: Do Police deploy CCTV into recognised hot spots. Roger Hirst stated that a strategy was already in place and coordinated with the Council with the Police also working alongside the private sector on CCTV.
Councillor Fletcher: Questioned the rise in burglaries in his ward and raised the concern of residents and asked what reassurance could be given to residents of South Ockendon. Claire Talbot stated that more Police Officers were on the street patrolling and these should be more visible. Where there were any trends in an area a request would be made to the Police Central Teams. The Police had good results on stop and search.
Roger Hirst thanked Members for their time this evening and that a number of continued concerns had been heard and would be taken away. Roger Hirst encouraged Members to read the Fire and Rescue Plan and welcomed any feedback.
Roger Hirst agreed to come back to Council as and when Members requested.
The Deputy Mayor thanked, on behalf of the chamber, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst, Chief Inspector Claire Talbot, Justin Benson-Ryal, Station Manager, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and Assistant Director for Communications and Engagement, Darren Horsman for their time this evening.
At 8.10pm, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst, Chief Inspector Claire Talbot, Justin Benson-Ryal, Station Manager, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and Assistant Director for Communications and Engagement, Darren Horsman left the Council Chamber.