Report by Essex Police
IN the last year our Town Centre Teams have made more than 1,000 arrests and led more than 2,000 investigations – bolstering our ability to catch criminals and keep you safe.
The teams have worked hard to make your towns safer by catching drug dealers, shoplifters, those carrying weapons, as well as dealing with anti-social behaviour.
Recent successes include the execution of a warrant at a ‘chop shop’ in which several stolen vehicles were recovered. This investigation is still ongoing and was the result of intelligence gathered by our Town Centre Team in Loughton.
By working with you, our local communities, these teams have increased the information and intelligence we receive which helps us catch more criminals and prevent and detect crime.
Leader of Thurrock Council, Cllr Rob Gledhill, said: “We have seen some excellent results from the town centre teams in Thurrock over the last year.
So much so that we have invested £1m of investment surplus funding to expand the teams into Purfleet and Aveley and Tilbury town centres as well as those in Grays, Ockendon and Stanford-Le-Hope.
“Working in partnership with Essex Police to tackle crime, violence and anti-social behaviour in our borough’s town centres is a key priority for us.
The success of the existing teams’ presence on our streets from when they first launched to now speaks for itself.
“I cannot thank the town centre police teams enough for the fantastic work they have done keeping these Thurrock town centres safe. We look forward too many more years of excellent local policing like this to come.”
The Basildon team have solved 180 crimes in their first year including shop lifting offences, drugs-related crimes and possession of offensive weapons.
Our Town Centre Teams have built close relationships with residents, businesses, community groups, councils and other organisations over the past year to get to the root of ongoing local issues and tensions.
The team in Southend have seen a number of successes, including working with the local council to combat illegal shellfish harvesting. They carried out a week-long operation which saw 29 pickers spoken to and the seizure of £11,000 worth of illegally harvested shellfish.
The Braintree and Witham teams have been working with schools to identify those at risk and use effective partnership work to prevent antisocial behaviour among young people. This is linked to our efforts to educate and prevent young people from becoming involved in knife and violent crime under Operation Sceptre.
Across the county the teams have been carrying out targeted searches in parks and other open areas which has resulted in a number of weapons being recovered and removed from our streets. Venues across Essex have worked with us to accommodate the use of knife arches to detect weapons and to raise awareness of the dangers of carrying knives.
In another example of the Town Centre Teams’ success, Costa Coffee in Waltham Abbey were having issues with teenagers intimidating customers. Our team secured a Criminal Behaviour Order and excluded the people responsible from the area, they are also carrying out regular patrols to make sure the area remains a safe place.
Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan said: “We want to thank you for welcoming our officers into your communities. They have become part of them as we all come together to fight crime and anti-social behaviour, making our town centres safer for all those who live, work or visit Essex.
“By working together, we can keep the tide turning and put a stop to anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and other insidious crimes which cause irreparable harm to families, friends and our communities.”
Our force has continued to grow. We saw 58 new officers passing out earlier this month, and this year we will be investing in even more officers dedicated to local policing. Twenty new Community Safety Engagement Officers (CSEOs), who will support their local policing teams alongside our Town Centre Teams are starting to move into their posts now.
ACC Nolan continued: “We are increasing the numbers of new officers who will be bolstering our work to protect and serve our communities and catch the bad guys.
“Our new CSEOs will be looking at solving those longer term problems which really do affect people’s quality of life, at addressing issues that are priorities for communities and telling you about what they are doing so you know more about what’s happening in your town.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown in March, our Town Centre Teams carried out extra patrols to help protect closed businesses and since June we have worked in partnership with them and local councils as they reopen.
Last weekend, it became compulsory to wear face coverings in shops. Again, our Town Centre Teams have worked with local businesses to support them through this change and make shopping an enjoyable and safe experience for all.
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, says: “We provide the funding to enable Essex Police to boost officer numbers making the force the strongest it’s been in many years.
“After listening to the public and local businesses and traders it’s clear that people want more officers in their town centres and the launch of these teams last year, alongside other expansions to the rural, business crime, schools and roads policing teams are a big success. People are very pleased to have them there and are reassured to have them around.
“Local, visible and accessible policing and preventing crime from happening in the first place are key priorities in our Police and Crime Plan.
I would like to personally thank everyone who makes this possible and every single officer, member of police staff, volunteers and our local partner agencies who work together every day in these teams – making such a difference to keeping Essex safe and secure.”