THE CHIEF CONSTABLE of Essex Jim Barker-McCardle outlined the future of Thurrock policing to Thurrock Council last night (Wednesday).
In an hour long presentation that was followed by a Q and A with the councillors, Mr Barker-McCardle spelt out in stark terms, the nature of the cuts.
He said: “These are without doubt the greatest challenges that Essex Police has faced in peacetime.”
The chief went on to detail the restructuring of the county which would lead to a more efficient, productive workforce.
However, in the light of that commitment he didn’t explain why he was flanked by a deputy chief constable and two chief inspectors.
Indeed the cuts illustrated that it is the lower ranks that will be hit hardest whilst Inspectors and Chief Inspectors will see their numbers rise.
The report stressed that the new vogue would be for “borderless policing” away from the culture where divisions and stations lived in their own “bubbles” or that reports would get “lost” as the complainer that was robbed in Lakeside lived in Clacton.
The chief made a commitment to response times and pledged that Grays would become one of nine “response hubs”.
He could not however, make any promises regarding Corringham police station and whether it would be sold off.
He said: “The whole estate is under review”
The chief spent the next hour, helping the councillors with their inquiries.
Former special constable, cllr Rob Gledhill made a plea that streamlining would involve reflecting whether “eighteen officers protecting Katie Price as she sold her products at Lakeside” was an effective use of taxpayers money and resources.”
The chief neatly side-stepped the question but earlier on he did stress that Essex Police had the lowest Band D precept of any of the shire police forces.
Much praise was heaped on the force by the council for the work of the force in the August riots, not only for their assistance in London but the quelling of any potential disturbances in Essex. Reference was also made to the operation over at Dale Farm.
Cllr Gerard Rice asked if help to policing costs could be given by companies such as DP World London Gateway or Proctor and Gamble.
Cllr Danny Nicklen pleaded with the chief not to carpet any staff who wanted a full and frank discussion over the cuts.
It was only after an hour that any councillor made reference to a system which would help solve crimes. This came from the forensic mind of Tory leader, Phil Anderson, who re-iterated his concern for Corringham police Station.
The Chief made the pledge that key units such as the Serious Crime Directorate, which was, working in partnership with Kent Constabulary, at “the cutting edge” of policing, would remain at the centre of policing.
He also added that front line policing numbers would rise from 93% to 96%.
Inspectors would rise to 157 from 145. Chief Inspectors would rise to 45 from 40.
Sergeants would decline from 553 to 520.
The most difficult question of the night (according to the chief) came at the end from the leader of the council, John Kent.
He asked: “Why present the blue print now, when an elected commissioner will come in soon and could change things?”
The chief denied that the blueprint was politically motivated.