Crime falls in Essex

A POLICE chief said yesterday he was "delighted" with a 6.6% drop in crime in Essex – but raised concerns that there are still not enough bobbies on the beat.

A POLICE chief said yesterday he was "delighted" with a 6.6% drop in crime in Essex - but raised concerns that there are still not enough bobbies on the beat.

Annual statistics show the number of crimes in Essex has fallen by 9,551 from 143,866 in 2003/4 to 134,315 in 2004/5.

The largest drop was in indecent assaults against women, which saw a 34% fall from 728 to 475, while rapes rose from 337 to 348. Detection rates remained level at 28%.

The biggest drop in crime in police divisions in north Essex was seen in Colchester, where crimes fell by 10.3% compared with an average of 1.7% in Tendring, Chelmsford and Braintree.

Essex Police Authority chairman Robert Chambers welcomed the figures, but said more still needs to be done.

"Obviously I'm delighted that the figures are coming down, but I'm still very concerned that we do not have sufficient visible policing," said Mr Chambers.

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"Certainly now over the next 12 months, with the new chief constable, I want to make sure we have a rising presence of visible policing walking around."

He said increasing levels of both police officers and police community support officers on the streets is a "top priority" with the new chief constable, Roger Baker, who takes over from David Stevens on July 1.

"It doesn't matter whether it's police officers or PCSOs as long as it's an efficient presence, even more so in rural areas than urban areas," added Mr Chambers.

He said more visible policing could be achieved through better use of existing police officers through cutting down on bureaucracy.

Essex Police is trying to issue police with palm-top computers so that officers can complete their paperwork without having to return to police stations.

"Bureaucracy is something that's grown over the years. It's got to the point we have got to do something, otherwise police officers will be spending all their time filling in paperwork, which is not what the police force is about.

"The more they're out and about, the more we prevent crime - and prevent paperwork."

An Essex Police spokesman, commenting on the crime figures, said: "We still remain one of the safest places to live in the country."

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

2004/5 2003/4

Domestic burglaries 5,846 7,068

Robberies 1,387 1,510

Violent offences against the person 27,898 29,050

Vehicle crime 6,345 7,288