The scandal of Thurrock’s unsolved crimes

Editorial Comment

A special investigation by YourThurrock has revealed the shockingly low detection rates for crime in Thurrock.

The aim of this story is not to lambast the officers in Thurrock but to make a plea to the bosses in Chelmsford and the political bosses in Thurrock and Westminster to act now or see an unparalleled rise in violent and acquistive crime in the borough over the next few years as the recession bites deeper and deeper.

It is also a call to see more direct policing prioritised and peripheral crime prevention projects “marginalised” until detection rates reach what many would consider an acceptable level.

Day in, day out, YourThurrock reporters see drug dealers operating with impunity. People can set their watches by it. The car park near to Kwik-Fit, the alcove opposite Grays magistrates to name but a few. Drug dealing was clearly visible throughout T-Fest.

In 2007, 90% of drug offences were detected. Now the detection rates have slumped to 59%.

What may have happened is that the number of dealers have flooded into the borough since 2007 but the powers that be have reduced the number of officers available to detect. If you think Frank Serpico is wandering around Grays High Street then think again!

What is also of great concern is that only 13% of all sex offences were detected in the borough last year. The number of reported crimes dropped from 368 to 197 but the detection rate went from 14% to 13%. The bigger question is why there have been a 171 drop in reported crime.

Perhaps there were 368 sex offences but it would be very distressing if there were 171 Thurrock women (or men) who after an attack have signalled their complete lack of faith in the criminal justice system and not reported a rape or other sex crime.

Again, violence against the person has shown a 17% drop in detection rates in the borough over two years. In 2008-09 there were 2803 attacks. 48% were detected against 2432 attacks in 2006-07 with a 65% detection rate.

For many years, detection rates for burglaries and robberies stood at anything between 25 and 40%. Today, in Thurrock, the number of robberies stands at 15%. 2007-08 was a particularly shocking year with only 8% of all robberies detected.

You do start to look at these figures and ask yourself, what is it going to take before someone does something? Before someone gives the police the backing and the resources they need. A 0% detection rate?  The figures reveal that community engagement days or walk in surgeries or mobile offices are simply smoke screens. Smokescreens the public and the cops don’t really want. The figures also reveal that it isn’t working.

Handing out pamphlets doesn’t work; plasma tv screens with public information films with the sound turned down does not work; fifteen officers at a drugs awareness day in Blackshots whilst drug dealers wander the fields nearby with impunity, doesnt work; PCSO’s spending four hours at school certificate evenings while robberies and assaults are taking place nearby doesn’t work.

Disagree?: the stats are the facts. Ask any taxpayer and they would rather see a 1% improvement in crime detection rates than all the intiatives outlined above.

The public have their role to play. Any cop will tell you: the people who are out in Aveley or Blackshots Lane berating dustmen over three bins are the same people, who when there is a rape or murder or assault or a drug deal on their street, turn around and say: “Oh I just keep myself to myself.”.

It is the time for the politician and the public alike to come to the party. So, to all the councillors who are making council employees redundant. To all the councillors who espouse the big society, mobilise your voters, get on board and do something. Or are you too busy mobilising the public over……….bins.

The police don’t get off scot free. A detective told YourThurrock that the police simply don’t recruit crime fighters any more. If your football team doesn’t sign strikers don’t be surprised if you don’t score any goals.

They may also want to reflect on whether they need to re-shape their pr model. Putting out press releases boasting that recorded crime is down may fool some newsdesks but the public feel you are just insulting their intelligence. The stats, once again bear them out.

With the council planning to cut a large number of PCSO’s and the government planning to cut £43 million from Essex Police’s budget, things look very grim indeed.

As we have said: something needs to be done right here and right now.

Portfolio holder, cllr Gerard Rice did not respond to a request for an interview. Essex Police did not respond to a request for a statement at the time of going to press.

Offences Recorded in Thurrock District

2006-07                      2007-08                 2008-09

Violence Against The Person 2432 1579 65%          3000 1269 42%     2803 1343 48%

Sexual Offences                          126 43 34%                 368 50 14%           197 26 13%

Robbery                                        201 42 21%                  588 46 8%             311 46 15%

Fraud & Forgery                        1336 224 17%              882 210 24%        966 171 18%

Drug Offences                            228 206 90%               308 235 76%         544 321 59%

Criminal Damage                     3346 465   14%            2541 472 19%       2958 399 13%

Burglary                                       1815 208 11%              1973 192 10%      1408 251 18%

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