Clacton: New police and crime chief Nick Alston wants community to work together to tackle crime

THE new crime chief for Essex has urged a seaside community to work together to tackle serious offences following a spate of knife crimes and armed robberies.

Police and crime commissioner Nick Alston held talks with local politicians and senior police officers in Clacton. He called the meeting following concerns after a series of stabbings in the town over the past 12 months, including that of Liam Mearns, who died after being attacked last December.

There have also been three armed robberies within the last month – two of which occurred at the same bank.

Mr Alston said he expects the police to continue their “tough approach” to crime but called on local residents to play their part and inform officers if they know of any criminal activity. He would also like to see more joint working between police, councils and the voluntary sector, he said.

“There is a perception of a knife problem in Clacton and there have been some trends where knives are being used,” he said. “What is important is that there has been a really focused response from the police. I expect a continued tough approach from police, but it’s very important the local community plays their part too. If you have information that can help the police, tell them because that enables a whole series of new powers to be used.”

The meeting was held between MP for Clacton Douglas Carswell, chief inspector and district commander for Tendring, Cat Barrie, and leader of Tendring District Council (TDC) Peter Halliday. Harwich and north Essex MP Bernard Jenkin was also in attendance.

Chief inspector Barrie said recent “stop and search” activities had proved successful.

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“We’ve managed to arrest 17 people so far and two key offenders have been locked up in prison,” she told the meeting. “So the number of stop and search activities have been increased and we’ve taken those powers and used them to success.”

Chief insp Barrie and Mr Alston also said education is key to tackling crime and a lot of work has been carried out in schools and engaging the community.

Mr Alston stressed he is not here to “lead” but to listen to local concerns which will help influence his policing and crime plan for next year.

He said: “I’m here to hear what’s going on and for me it was a real learning exercise.

“My immediate priority is to produce the policing and crime plan for next year in preparation for the budget setting and to be well informed about an area where there’s been a perception and a reality of a crime issue.”

Mr Alston said there were also “social issues going on in the background” linked to crime and his meeting was an opportunity to meet with council leaders who can help influence licensing and housing policy.

However, he conceded that it was unlikely more resources would be spared for Clacton in the future.

He said: “I am looking hard to see how effective the recent changes to the policing blueprint are but I don’t suppose for one moment it holds more resource so that’s going to remain challenging.”

Chief insp Barrie said there has been a reduction in officers in the district and a reorganisation of roles but despite this, overall crime was down 9.5% compared to this time last year.

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