Essex police chief criticised in report

A POLICE watchdog has criticised the Chief Constable of Essex for telling officers to visit every victim.

Elliot Furniss

A POLICE watchdog has criticised the Chief Constable of Essex for telling officers to visit every victim.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said taking statements was “not always necessary” and could be “time consuming”.

Inspectors said rank and file officers in Essex were not convinced by Chief Constable Roger Baker's “attend every crime” policy.

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“While attending every crime is a highly effective method of engagement, it is felt by a number of staff interviewed that taking a statement at each crime is not always necessary and can be time consuming,” said a HMIC report.

“Statements were seen that were clearly not up to court standard and had not been quality-assured,” it continued. “A system of quality assurance should be adopted to ensure that statements are of a consistent standard, especially as the requirement to take statements is chief officer led.”

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Mr Baker took control in Essex three years ago and after starting the job he demanded more arrests and told criminals: “If you are planning on committing crime in Essex, bring a toothbrush because you won't be going home.”

He said he wanted officers to focus on the public, adding that he believed in face to face contact.

Mr Baker said he welcomed the report and that he would continue to work with the HMIC to provide the best possible service to the community.

He said: “Essex is a high performing force, in the last year we have had 13,000 fewer victims of crime, but we are not complacent.

“The public are our biggest partner and we will continue to listen to them and work with them to provide the service they ask for.

“There are always ways in which we can improve and this is something we will continually strive to do.”

Simon Burns, MP for West Chelmsford, said the criticism of Mr Baker was “ludicrous” and he should be receiving praise.

“The Chief Constable is responding to what the public in Essex want and they are reassured by his belief that the hand of the police should feel the collars of criminals,” he said.

Mr Burns said it seemed “somewhat cockeyed” that a Chief Constable should be criticised for carrying out a policy that was welcomed by most and seemed to be “rather effective”.

He added: “We need to replace political correctness with a dose of sound commonsense and fortunately the Chief Constable of Essex has an abundance of commonsense.”

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