ESSEX Police leaders have outlined how the force aims to secure the trust and confidence of the wide range of diverse communities that we serve across the county.
As part of the Towards Excellence Conference at Stock Brook Manor, which took place on Tuesday 23 May, senior leaders spoke on how we are working hard to maintain and build public trust, creating a more diverse force that reflect the huge diversity of Essex, tackling all forms of crime where there is discrimination and violence against women and girls.
The aim of the conference was to come together with community and voluntary sector organisations and other partners to consolidate what we’re doing well and, most importantly, identify where we could or should be doing better.
Speaking to the audience, Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington said: “Essex Police is the largest it has ever been; we have more officers, more staff and more volunteers all working incredibly hard to keep communities across the county safe and deal with criminals.
“And we’re starting to see the impact of that. Crime is coming down – in particular violent and sexual offences. There were 3,000 fewer crimes in Essex in the last year than the previous year. That means more 3,000 fewer victims. And antisocial behaviour is down by a third.
“But we’re also a better force, a more representative force. We serve a brilliant, diverse county and we’re strongest when we represent and understand the communities we serve.
“Almost 37% of our officers are female, and 4% are officers from ethnic minority backgrounds and we have people joining from a whole range of backgrounds within Essex and beyond. We’re not complacent – we know there is more to be done and we are determined that our force fully reflects the communities we serve.”
Mr Harrington added: “We know we have the confidence of the majority of the public. 75% of people tell us in independent surveys that we’re doing a good or excellent job. Our people are enthusiastic, committed, and keen to protect and serve the people of Essex is a variety of roles so I would ask people to get involved, as an officer, a staff member or a volunteer. It’s my job, supported by the force and our communities to make sure they’re well-trained, given the resources they need to protect their communities.”
Vernal Scott, the force’s Diversity and Inclusion Manager, has led a programme which has seen more than 90% of officers and staff completing important training in diversity, inclusion and equality.
He said: “The success of the Towards Excellence Conference is bringing partner agencies and communities together with police personnel and is an extremely powerful demonstration of Essex Police’s intention to secure the trust and confidence of the diverse communities we protect and serve.
“The number of female officers is growing, so too the number of officers from ethnic minority backgrounds. Application rates are also continuing to trend in that direction.”
The force has also been recognised for its work, having secured awards from the Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Cohesion Partnership and also achieved leadership status against disability confident criteria.
Mr Scott added: “Central to all our work is creating a representative workforce and, within that, taking a zero-tolerance approach to hate, racism and misogyny within the force and deal with it where it is a crime in Essex.”
“I’m proud to work at Essex Police. There are so many people in this organisation doing good and helping our diverse communities. We cannot serve our communities well if we don’t get to know them – this conference is an excellent example of that.”
Chief Superintendent Claire Talbot, our force lead on tackling violence against women and girls, said: “We saw last week the NPCC stating that violence against women and girls is now prioritised alongside terrorism and organised crime.
“In Essex, our absolute priority is protecting women and girls and dealing with those who seek to cause them harm. That means focusing on domestic abuse, which makes up roughly one-fifth of all crime, tackling rape and serious sexual offences, child sexual abuse and, increasingly, tech-enabled offences such as online stalking and harassment.
“And we’re doing that; we’re solving more domestic abuse cases than this time last year – an average of nearly 270 a month, we’re solving more rape and sexual offences cases than 12 months ago and we’re solving a greater percentage of rape and sexual offences investigations than five years ago despite the number of recorded offences having nearly doubled.”
Ch Supt Talbot also explained how the most dangerous domestic abuse perpetrators are being effectively tackled, adding: “We use an evidence-based approach backed by academic research. We now focus on behaviour most prevalent in the most serious kinds of domestic abuse to identify those who pose the greatest risk. We believe that sets us apart from other forces.”
Superintendent Naomi Edwards, who leads on how we deal with hate crime in Essex, said: “At Essex Police, we’re here to help people and tackle crime in all its forms. Hate crime can have a devastating impact on victims as it’s a direct target on someone’s personal identity.
“We also recognise that there are members of our transgender and disability community who may feel reluctant or scared to report hate crime. Your report will be taken seriously, and we will investigate it.
“We are here to support you. No-one should live in fear and it’s important we do everything we can to support victims and help them feel safe, whether that’s in their own home or in public spaces.
“We have specially trained Hate Crime Ambassadors to support victims or you can visit one of our Hate Incident Reporting Centres to speak to us.”