Police bosses hold public meeting at The Stow

Crime / Sat 9th Mar 2024 at 09:28am

By Ican Naci

RESIDENTS of Harlow were invited to find out more about crime and community safety in the town at a public meeting held at The Stow on Monday evening.

The panel included Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst, Chief Inspector Paul Austin, Steve Wintrop of Essex County Fire and Rescue Service. leader of Harlow Council, Cllr Dan Swords (Cons) and Portfolio Holders for Communities, councillor John Steer.

The meeting began with an overview of crime statistics, both in Essex and in Harlow.

Members of the public raised concerns over the safety in the town, many speaking about the troubles that occur within the town centre as well as shopping precincts such as The Stow.

Yasmin Gregory of the Harlow Green Party spoke and emphasised how she feels vulnerable walking down local cycle paths. She claimed that women are ‘frightened at night’.

Once again, the meeting was punctuated with statistics. One of them being sexual assault is down by 7% and that 77% of the public are confident in Essex Police to provide them with the security and safety they need.

Theft motor vehicle came up. Mr Hirt said: “I’m sure you’ve all come across, or met someone who has had their vehicle stolen.” With this being a prominent issue, the panel ensured they are ‘working to tackle it’.

With Essex Police recovering £20m worth of stolen cars. They detailed what vehicles are being targeted. A large number of Range Rovers, Jaguars and Ford Fiestas had been stolen.

Councillor John Steer made reference to specific operations. He said: “We will be seeing Operation Dial with a ‘major revamp’ as future operations are being planned.

“Operation Dial is designed for officers to complete consistent patrols to combat anti-social behaviour (ASB). With a further implementation of 27 CCTV cameras in the Stow which are actively monitored in a local hub”.

They th moved on to shoplifting. The panel said 60% of offences in Harlow were committed in ten stores (which are not named). Though, the highest amount of shoplifting was claimed to be in a petrol station.  

A member of the public detailed an incident they had gone through and experienced their frustration with delays to 101.

The resident detailed having called 101 after hearing ‘gunshots’. He said he saw the perpetrators flee and one in fact holding what resembled a shotgun. He mentioned having called 101 and was put on hold 20 minutes for a response.

“That should not be the case, when I call 101, I get through almost instantly.” Roger Hirst stated with an additional statement on hold times being reduced from what once was ‘thirty minutes to eight minutes.’ Furthermore, a £1m budget has been placed to improvise 101.

With e-scooters growing popularity, a member in attendance had raised the question on “what they will do about people riding irresponsibly on e-scooters?”. Chief Inspector Paul Austin said they seized over 250 e-scooters.

On the similar topic, a member of the attendance queried the illegal mopeds and motorbikes being used to commit crimes by individuals hidden with balaclavas, wielding knives. They asked, “What are you going to do about it?”

A response unit readily available to tackle such crimes and Essex Police do have the facilities to use their own off-road motorbikes to stop criminals evading. They stated that “due to the natural geography of Harlow, it is difficult to always stop them”.

With knife crime being a national issue, Essex Police are working with A&E in a reflect programme. With criminals being injured due to the life they are associated with. A&E operate their reflect programme to help rehabilitate those that are injured as it is considered a ‘touching moment’.

Roger Hirst said this has been ‘extremely successful’ with many changing their habits and going on to do better things with themselves instead of following a life of crime.

“With technology on the rise, growing greater and greater, what are you going to be doing about cybercrime? What have you got in place?” said a member in attendance. Roger Hirst said, “The City of London Police run the national online fraud programme, but we also have our own cyber-crime unit in Kent, which we share.”

Roger Hirst went into different regions operating several areas of cyber-crime, with regions helping provide information about firewalls and keeping safe online, where other regions are directly approaching tackling paedophilia online. “We are also investing heavily nationally in facial recognition technology”.

The PFCC will commence a public meeting schedule for 2024/25 in the autumn of 2024, when public meetings for each of the 14 districts in Essex will again be scheduled.

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5 Comments for Police bosses hold public meeting at The Stow:

Matthew Gillman
2024-03-09 14:36:59

Why did that member of the public ring 101 after the suspected shooting incident, instead of the emergency number 999?

Yasmin Gregory - Harlow Green Party Chair & Parliamentary Candidate
2024-03-09 14:57:18

1. Whilst the meeting was advertised to take place at The Moot House. potential attendees would have found the doors firmly shut. It was actually held in the Moot House Social Club in a room attached to the clubhouse not the hall that was previously frequented by the Moot House Players. 2. The panel was not as advertised and it was unfortunate that the 5 seats at the table were taken by 5 white males. 3. I made a note that whilst, according to Mr Hirst, Essex has the highest number of officers ever, only 200 are based in Harlow. Not all officers would be on duty at the same time and would have a variety of tasks and duties to undertake which leads to 101 calls taking 45 minutes to be answered. 4. I said a number of women in Harlow fear for their safety and the recent figures showing the number of rapes (against women) in Harlow that remain unsolved would echo this statement. Mr Hirst’s response suggested that I was in the minority- in the words of Mandy Rice-Davies “He would, wouldn’t he”. 4. The ‘meeting’ had a total of 7 serving blue councillors in attendance - 2 on the panel and 5 in the audience feeding questions to the big chief. Without them and two reporters, I would suggest the audience would have been single figures. To conclude: it’s 1.5 hours of my life that I won’t get back and I walked away with the feeling that this really was a missed opportunity for the big chief and the others to have frank discussions and provide believable answers to the people of Harlow. We need visible officers with rapid response times and crimes in Harlow solved. Chelmsford, Colchester and Southend seem to always be prioritised over Harlow for all services. The two county councillors who were sat in the audience need to speak up for Harlow when attending ECC meetings.

2024-03-09 19:15:23

What did the colour of the panels skin have anything to do with the meeting???🤔

2024-03-10 00:14:53

Turkey, I suspect Yasmin is making the point that women and non whites were not represented by panel members with direct experience of issues that these groups might face. For women, the very low clear up rates for sexual crimes might be a concern, indeed a concern for us all. Unfortunely Yasmin's first point about the location was unnecessary in my view but then again I do know the area well

2024-03-10 09:34:45

Vote for Mr, very well put , so why didn't she say that. Also I lived in that area for many years , do you think they might have had security on the door.

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