Changes needed to tackle Essex crime

RESIDENTS in north Essex have called for a change in the way their communities are policed after voicing concerns the current set up is having little impact on crime.

Elliot Furniss

RESIDENTS in north Essex have called for a change in the way their communities are policed after voicing concerns the current set up is having little impact on crime.

Meanwhile one of the county's leading officers had admitted that a crucial lack of public involvement had restricted the effectiveness of Neighbourhood Action Panels (NAP) in some areas.

The criticism came at a meeting of the East Essex Area Forum held in Walton-on-the-Naze yesterday afternoon when members of the public from Tendring and Colchester were given the chance to quiz some of Essex Police's top brass.

Brian Rolfe, chairman of Lawford Parish Council, said his local NAP was having little impact and called on them to be scrapped across the county and their powers transferred to town and parish councils.

But Chief Superintendent Dave Hudson, divisional commander for the eastern division, defended NAPs.

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“It's about getting different people around the table and it's not just the views of the parish councils and the police - we need to get the fire service and Neighbourhood Watch groups on board to have a broad church of opinion,” he said.

However he admitted NAPs were not getting enough public involvement and it was “absolutely crucial” to their success that people engaged with them more.

He also said that budget restrictions had prevented the force from appointing a new county-wide NAP co-ordinator but recruitment would be taking place soon.

During the meeting, the use of police community support officers (PCSOs) was also debated, with some Tendring residents questioning their ability to tackle crime.

Robert Chambers, chairman of the Essex Police Authority, said that more PCSOs than ever before were currently signed up to offer a greater police presence by spending about 80% of their time out on the street.

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