Colchester: Policing in ‘party town’ under scrutiny

THE reputation of an historic Essex town will go under the spotlight next month when it features in a BBC Three series about policing.

Police Academy UK will see officers from Colombia, Samoa, Zambia and Australia witness how their counterparts in this country uphold the law.

The series gets underway on April 3 when the quartet join officers preparing for a Friday night patrol in Colchester.

But a BBC preview hints it will paint Colchester in a damning light, dubbing it a ‘party town’ in a county ‘renowned for its loutish, drinking culture’.

“They [international police officers] are surprised to discover that the great British public seems to have no respect for its police force but it’s their night out in Colchester that shocks them the most,” reads the programme’s billing. “They watch astounded as Essex police pours resources on taking care of youths too drunk to look after themselves.

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“After a night of witnessing debauchery and violence on the streets of Colchester, Pc Luke Elsbury, from western Australia, can’t believe how “hands off” his British counterparts are.

“Referring to the British treatment of one nuisance reveller in particular, he says: “As you can probably tell I’m feeling frustrated, where I’m from his night would have been over.”

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Tim Young, portfolio holder for housing and community safety at Colchester Borough Council, said: “I’m not going to deny there is not an issue in Colchester on a Friday and Saturday night with people drinking too much but we’re no worse than anywhere else.

“To paint Colchester in this sensationalist tone is nothing short of disgraceful, because it is not the case. A lot of people go into Colchester at the weekend and they would not recognise this description.”

A spokeswoman for Essex Police, who declined to comment on criticism of policing in Colchester, said: “Essex Police has participated in the filming of Police Academy UK to help demonstrate how policing is different around the world.

“The experience enabled our officers to share best practice with the four international officers who visited and also gave our officers the opportunity to learn from the experiences and way of policing from the visiting officers.

“Officers from Zambia, Samoa, Columbia and Western Australia visited Essex to find out how the county is policed and they were able to discuss and compare how each police force differed.”

Police Academy UK will be broadcast on BBC Three at 9pm on Sunday, April 3.

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