COUNCILLORS across the political spectrum have joined with residents and community groups to challenge senior police officials over their decision to remove a well-respected officer from his post.
Decorated officer,PC Andy Lawrence has held the role of Community Liaison Officer for the last seven years, covering the Aveley, Belhus, Ockendon and West Thurrock and South Stifford wards, but it is claimed that under the new Essex Police Blueprint, he will be moved to a “back office post” in the Crime and Incident Management Bureau – a move which has angered local residents and politicians alike.
Conservative Ockendon councillor Amanda Arnold said, “It takes time and massive amount of effort to build up the number of high quality relationships that Andy has forged. His work has had a hugely positive effect on the community and he has become the public face of the police. We feel like the rug has been pulled from under our feet.”
Cllr Sue Gray who chairs the South Ockendon Residents Association agreed, adding, “We have been contacted by residents and community groups who are furious about this decision and want to know what they can do to make sure Andy stays.
“The posting notification states that officers have been “skills matched” to their new posts, but no officer had more contacts or had spent more time at community and multi agency meetings than Andy.”
A petition to keep PC Lawrence as part of the Neighbourhood Police Team has been launched by Ockendon Street Rep John Noon, and is expected to be presented to the Chief Constable at the meeting of Full Council on 21st September.