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Harlow: Thursday October 26th: One police officer to 80,000 people

News / Sun 29th Oct 2017 at 12:58pm

Police 2

Editorial Comment

ON Thursday afternoon, Harlow PC Josh Haase placed a message on social media platform Twitter that told his followers that he was the “only deployable officer in Harlow”.

Soon after, YH re-tweeted it. Soon after, PC Haase deleted the tweet.

PC Haase is hardly a controversial tweeter. His 5,498 tweets to date give an invaluable, honest and decent insight into the world of an Essex Police Officer (mainly working out of Harlow) in 2017.

We have no reason to doubt that what he said was true. That is the frightening aspect of that tweet: One “deployable” police officer for 80,000 people.

We hope that the fact that there was one police officer for 80,000 people is a wake up call for a number of groups.

Time and time again, we go to meetings, where many people, of a variety of ages and backgrounds say that they would like to see the “bobby back on the beat”. Those days appear to be gone. You can sit in your church halls and hark back to the days of George Dixon or Errol Greene. Those..days..are..gone…for now..

We truly believe that the majority of people in Harlow have no idea how few cops are out there. We get the feeling the criminals know.

Those cops that are out there are doing their best under very very trying circumstances.

But what is a matter of concern is that the days of solving burglaries also seem to be a thing of the past. Solve rates for burglary are as low as anything between 1% and 5%. There used to be a major internal inquiry if they dipped below 40%.

What you see on social media from the police in Harlow is a game of smoke and mirrors. Whether it is coffee with cops in the Broad Walk or PCSOs out and about in the town. It may act as a form of public reassurance and may be just maybe enough people will think things are ok. Infact the campaign regarding burglaries and keeping your house safe is arguably an admission in defeat.

The Conservative politicians will have a party line. You may well do when you have removed 10,000 police officers (close to 800 in Essex). They believe that Essex Police are sitting on a lot of property that they could sell. Release the funds and that could pay for more police officers. 800? Doubtful.

We have asked Harlow MP Robert Halfon for a response. Answer there was none.
We have also asked the leader of Harlow Council, cllr Jon Clempner for an answer. We understand he is still thinking about it.

We did ask Essex Police for a response.

A spokesperson said:

“Modern policing is in a challenging position and as such available officers will be allocated to incidents around the county, which are prioritised on threat, harm and risk to the public. On this occasion there was more than one officer available to respond to emergencies in Harlow. The management of local officers is a matter for the command team and shift inspectors and it is not always the case that every PC on shift will be aware of the actions of other officers on duty, or where other resources can be deployed from in the event of an operational need.

“Policing is not solely about responding to offences that have already occurred, it’s just as important for our officers to work to prevent crime happening in the first place.

“We work closely with Harlow Council and the local community to tackle issues within the community. This includes a 12-week programme in the Town Centre. The Council has also recruited three additional Community Safety Officers who will start work at the end of November. They will be deployed around Harlow and work closely with local Police Officers and the community to reduce anti-social and violent behaviour in the town centre and other shopping areas”.

It appears to be a close to impossible job. YH is a close observer of the things and there are a number of people on social media who corroborate PC Haase’s tweet. Go follow someone like former DCI Peter Kirkham (@peter_kirkham). He tells it like it is.

You will see tweets all over the country that highlight how few officers are working major areas at any given time.

This is a crisis, not a challenge. If you see it as a challenge then you are probably in denial.

We want to stress again that we are not getting at the police. How on earth many do their job is beyond us. How on earth they can attract new recruits when they pay is so poor is also a question.

But what Harlow may also need is someone in authority who is just a tad angry about this and will campaign. We are yet to be convinced that such a person exists right now. And that is a worry….

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