Policing select committee visits Essex

A COMMITTEE carrying out a major inquiry into policing has visited Essex to talk to officers about the challenges they face while patrolling the streets.

Annie Davidson

A COMMITTEE carrying out a major inquiry into policing has visited Essex to talk to officers about the challenges they face while patrolling the streets.

The Government's Home Affairs Select Committee is overseeing the Policing in the 21st Century inquiry which will report back to Parliament by the summer.

The six-month review has a number of themes including neighbourhood policing, priority setting and the impact of migration on the police service.

Yesterday committee chairman and MP Keith Vaz was joined by Colchester MP Bob Russell to meet with divisional commander for Colchester and Tendring, Dave Hudson.

Mr Russell, who is on the select committee, and Mr Vaz went to Colchester's women's refuge to discuss the issues around domestic violence before heading to the town's police station.

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Mr Vaz said: “In Colchester we have got an excellent police force which obviously is working to maximum strength, we want to make sure police officers are out and about doing what they can do.

“We are not looking for Dixon of Dock Green, we are looking for his grandson - a new police officer for a new century.”

The committee is also looking closely at the issues surrounding migration in the UK which have been highlighted by two Chief Constables in the last six months.

Julie Spence of Cambridgeshire Police and Mike Fuller of Kent Police both said that rising migration had increased the pressure on their individual forces.

Mr Vaz said: “Julie Spence was saying that a lot of people have come here since 2004 and that does put pressure on things like translation services - so where is the money to come from for Polish translators?

“It is important we look at those kind of pressures and we will look at that kind of pressure for Essex as well.”

He praised a recent scheme launched in Braintree where officers have started having Polish lessons to improve relations with the high number of Polish people living in the district - but added that many of the Eastern European people that come to the UK tend to learn English “very rapidly indeed.”

Members of the select committee are travelling country-wide and hearing evidence from people including Sir Ian Blair, the head of the Metropolitan Police.

They will also be investigating whether police officers should be better equipped with hand-held computers to use out on the beat.

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