Shock as Essex Police announce they will not attend up to 97% of anti-social behaviour calls in Harlow

News / Tue 25th Aug 2015 at 02:46pm

THE ASSISTANT CHIEF Constable of Essex Police, Julia Wortley has written to Harlow Council telling them that they will, in all likelihood, not be attending up to 97% of all complaints of anti-social behaviour (ASB)

Asb, or to give it its proper title, crime, has been the scourge of many communities in Thurrock.

However, with the continuing cuts to the police budgets by the Conservative government, Essex Police have had to come to a difficult decision.

Here is the letter in full

Re: Anti-social behaviour

I am writing to explain Essex Police’s approach to handling reports of anti-social behaviour (ASB) which, given our commitment to partnership working and the role that councils play as part of the Essex Community Safety Partnership, is material to your authority.

It will come as no surprise to you that police finances have come under the same pressures over the last five years as those of Local Authorities. For Essex Police those pressures have been made more acute because funding per head on policing in the county is below average compared with other police Forces in England and Wales.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has recognised that we have made significant progress in meeting the financial challenge but has acknowledged that our level of funding makes securing further savings extremely difficult.

Increased demand on services is exacerbating the financial challenge. There were 56,506 incidents of ASB recorded in Essex between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2015. Of these, only 1,500 were assessed as high risk. The demand created by the 97% of incidents which are low or medium risk is unsustainable and jeopardises the quality of our response to high risk cases and to other emergencies. Chief among these, of course, are the “hidden harms” of child abuse, child sexual exploitation and domestic violence.

The National Standards for Incident Reporting (NSIR) defines ASB as falling into one of three general categories:

Personal – incidents that are deliberately targeted at a particular individual or group or are aimed at having an impact on a particular individual or group as opposed to the community at large;
Nuisance – incidents where an individual or group causes trouble, annoyance, inconvenience, offence or suffering to the local community in general;
Environmental – incidents centred on the interaction between people and place (for example, littering, dog fouling, noise or abandoned vehicles)

The impact of these incidents range from concern, disquiet or irritation right through to incidents which could result in the risk of harm, disruption of mental or physical good health or loss of property.

Essex Police will of course continue to work in partnership to ensure statutory responsibilities are fulfilled. However it is unnecessary and unfeasible for us to respond in person to all reports of ASB.

Moving forward we will ensure that incidents are thoroughly risk assessed and receive an appropriate response based on the level of threat, risk and harm involved. In many cases this is likely to be a referral to partner agencies to resolve.

We will record incidents of ASB in a consistent and accurate manner in accordance with National Standards to help the police in partnership with local communities to map ASB and to tackle the harm it causes, acknowledging that crime and ASB can be connected.

We recognise that ASB can have a considerable effect on people and communities. The effectiveness of the service provided in response to such incidents as well as communication with victims will play a significant part in determining levels of confidence in the police service. However, as explained above, with finite resources available for deployment we need to be much more discerning as to how we deal with each notification of ASB.

Communities expect a robust response from the police where the behaviour causes or is likely to cause significant harm. Our focus of activity will therefore be on incidents of ASB where:-

• Vulnerability and / or a high risk of threat or harm is identified;
• Repeat locations are identified and cause a high risk of threat or harm to a person or community;
• An offender is identified who requires police intervention to manage their behaviour;
• A repeat victim is identified who require a supportive package to be put in place by police.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if I can elaborate further.

Yours sincerely

Julia Wortley
Assistant Chief Constable
‘Territorial Policing & Athena Programme’

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