The North West Essex Labour Party has blamed a 'lack of policing' in Uttlesford on Conservative cuts, after councillors accused police of not taking action on drug dealing.

In January, Uttlesford councillors wrote to Essex Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington and Police and Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst, voicing residents' concerns that calls relating to drug dealing are ignored.

Ben Cavanagh, a Labour Party spokesman, said: "Instead of criticising the police, councillors should be blaming this Conservative government for 14 years of underinvestment in the police and criminal justice system."

Essex Police explained that drug-related crime is taken very seriously - with drug dealers jailed for a total of 800 years in 2023 - but that for 999 calls they prioritise incidents where someone's safety is at risk.

Saffron Walden Reporter: George SmithGeorge Smith (Image: Essex Police)

George Smith, of the North West Essex Conservative Association, also defended Essex Police.

He said: "Following the government’s 20,000 officer Police Uplift Programme, Essex Police is now the biggest and strongest it has ever been in its 184 year history, by some margin.

"With the support of Essex residents, the force has expanded by twice the level funded by government, and is now 905 officers stronger than it was in 2016, with a headcount of 3,755 benefitting Chelmsford and Uttlesford.

"The Government’s 2023-24 overall funding settlement for the policing system will total up to £17.2 billion, a £287 million increase on the 2022-23 funding settlement. 

"In Essex, neighbourhood crime is down by half since 2010, and since 2016 Essex Police has managed to reduce murder by 55 per cent, burglary by 43 per cent, and anti-social behaviour by 70 per cent. Drug-driven knife homicide is also down by 70 per cent.


"There is undoubtedly more for the police to do, but we know that safe and secure communities are the bedrock on which we all thrive.

"As a consequence, confidence among residents in Essex Police is currently near an all-time high, at 77 per cent - a stark contrast to less well-run areas of the country, where they have a Labour Police & Crime Commissioner, as highlighted in Labour’s statement."

To report drug dealing contact police on 101.