THE Leader of Harlow Council, Mark Ingall, met with the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, Roger Hirst, on Monday, to discuss concerns being raised by residents and business owners about suspected criminal activity in Harlow Town Centre. Councillor Ingall expressed concerns that in 2013 the number of police personnel dedicated to the town centre had been significantly reduced, and since those cuts, reported crime had increased by 28%.
Cllr Ingall said, “This was a very useful meeting. The Commissioner agreed that more needed to be done to prevent parts of the Town Centre from gaining a reputation as being a no-go zone. While Commissioner Hirst was able to detail a number of recent initiatives that have been implemented, it is clear that more still needs to be done. I was told that an extra PC and an extra PCSO have been put in place, but if we are to properly reassure shoppers and residents, a highly visible police presence is needed to disrupt criminal elements that have been allowed too much freedom to carry on their activities. I also told him that some shopkeepers had said they had stopped reporting crime because they felt the police did not have the resources needed to respond properly.”
“The Commissioner told me that he recently held a review of Police numbers, which recommended that around 300 more officers were needed across Essex, and that steps had been taken to recruit 150 this year, with most being operational by January 2019, and a further 150 to be operational by January 2020. Whilst I welcome this increase in the number of officers, I questioned whether this will address the problems created by the cuts of 640 front line police across Essex since 2010. I also asked how many of those new officers would be stationed in Harlow, and what can be done to deal with the problem that exists right now. I am pleased that at the end of our meeting Commissioner Hirst agreed to discuss with Senior Police Officers what could be done to redeploy existing resources to the Town Centre with immediate effect. He also urged all shoppers and shopkeepers to report any criminal activity they see.”
Labour Councillor Chris Vince, Harlow’s representative on the Essex Police and Crime Panel, welcomed Cllr Ingall’s meeting saying “it is great that the new leader of Harlow Council is being so proactive in addressing such a serious issue. Having been out collecting signatures, with Cllr Edwards, for a petition calling for a greater police presence in the town centre, I know that the strength of feeling amongst Harlow residents is high, and I only hope that Commissioner Hirst listens to our concerns and ensures that Harlow gets its fair share of additional officers.”
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