Essex Police Crime Commissioner: Reflections on my first year

ESSEX POLICE and crime commissioner Nick Alston has gone on record to reflect on his first year in the job.

Mr Alston said:

“Friday November 15 marks one year since my election as Police and Crime Commissioner, a role which I feel proud and privileged to undertake on behalf of the people of Essex.

It’s been a very busy year, during which I’ve travelled round the county, engaging with local residents, businesses, and all those who work with local communities – such as Neighbourhood Watch and victim support groups. I’ve spent much time learning how Essex Police works, both supporting the force in its essential task of keeping us all safe and being prepared to challenge the force on the rare occasions where things have gone less well.

Highlights of the first year include:

Reducing crime to ensure there are fewer victims of crime – The first ever Police and Crime Plan for Essex abolished a plethora of targets for the county’s police force, replacing them with a clear and simple ambition: to reduce all crime to ensure there are fewer victims of crime. The latest figures for April to September 2013 show a further reduction of all crime in Essex of 1.1 per cent, and a welcome increase in the number of crimes solved of 3.6 per cent – both compared with the same period last year;

Public meetings in all parts of Essex – I pledged to hold two public meetings in each of the 14 districts and unitary authorities of Essex this calendar year, with the Essex Police district commander, key members of the local policing team, and the Community Safety Partnership present and engaging directly with local communities. I am delighted that we will honour that commitment. The meetings are always lively and I frequently discuss issues raised by local people directly with the Chief Constable. It is essential that police remain visible and close to the communities they serve, and I believe our public meetings are a key part of that local engagement;

Holding the Chief Constable to account in an open and transparent fashion – I’ve created an event called the Essex Police Challenge where I scrutinise the work of the Chief Constable before a public audience, who are able to ask tough questions of the Chief themselves. We’ve created a permanent record of the Essex Police Challenge meetings on our website, so that anyone who wasn’t able to attend can watch the event at their convenience. I also hold weekly scrutiny meetings with the Chief Constable and his senior team on themed subjects – Performance, Finance, Current Issues and Future Issues – publishing the minutes on our website. Holding the Chief Constable to account is at the very heart of the PCC role, and I am determined to do so in an open and transparent fashion;

Tackling the horrors of domestic abuse: too often the front line is the front room – There are 20 crimes of domestic violence every single day in our county. Most tragically, over a recent period of just eight weeks, three women were killed in their homes. We surely can’t accept this level of harm. I want to work across communities to create an environment where domestic abuse is not tolerated and where our children and young people grow up to recognise the value of healthy relationships. I chair a newly constituted Essex Domestic Abuse Strategic Board, which has representation from across all of the key agencies that have a role to play in tackling domestic abuse – including the police, councils, probation, the prosecution authorities and health. This new Board oversees an ambitious programme of work, in supporting victims, tackling perpetrators, and most importantly, working to prevent domestic abuse from happening in the first place;

Increasing efficiency and effectiveness through innovation – At the moment, a very small proportion of the overall policing budget is spent on technology. I am sure there has been under-investment in technology, and we need to invest more to ensure our highly trained professionals get the very best equipment and access to the full intelligence analysis. I have already challenged Essex Police to improve their implementation of new IT systems, and I will continue to work with the Chief Constable to ensure the force gets it right;

Working to prevent crime from happening in the first place – I was surprised to find that less than half of one per cent of the overall policing and crime budget for Essex was spent on crime prevention. As a first step in addressing this, I created the New Initiatives Fund, using just over half a million pounds to commission crime prevention activities. This money has helped to run schemes such as Firebreak working with young people just as they starting to get into trouble; provided support for the anti-knife crime educational work of Only Cowards Carry; and enabled Essex’s outstanding Special Constabulary to work more closely with our rural communities. Together with money seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the New Initiatives Fund will also enable the imminent rollout of a community messaging system to provide better information about crime and crime prevention to people across our county.

My first year has been both challenging and exhilarating. The challenges include the facts that too many people are still suffering serious harm – be it in road traffic accidents or in domestic abuse incidents – and we must all continue to work hard to tackle this. The exhilaration comes from seeing some of the excellent work happening across our county to keep us safe and to turn people’s lives around for the better. We have an outstanding police force, and truly committed people working with the most vulnerable members of our communities to make a real and lasting difference.

As Police and Crime Commissioner, I’m here to listen to your concerns and your accounts of good work, and you can contact me in the following ways.

Tel: 01245 291600

Email: pcc@essex.pnn.police.uk

Post: PCC for Essex

3 Hoffmanns Way

Chelmsford

Essex

CM1 1GU

You can also keep in touch using social media via Twitter:

twitter.com/essexpcc

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