Essex police chief warns austerity is the force’s toughest challenge

PUBLISHED: 17:35 27 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:39 27 April 2017

Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh (left) with Police and Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst. Picture ARCHANT

Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh (left) with Police and Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst. Picture ARCHANT

Archant

The chief constable of Essex Police says austerity remains the force’s biggest challenge and insists the last eight years in policing have been “the toughest since wartime”.

Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh marked his contract extension by going on patrol in Chelmsford. Picture: ARCHANTChief Constable Stephen Kavanagh marked his contract extension by going on patrol in Chelmsford. Picture: ARCHANT

Stephen Kavanagh was speaking as his contract was extended for a further four years by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex (PCC) Roger Hirst.

Mr Kavanagh, who began his police career in 1985 with the Metropolitan Police, says the financial challenge presented by government cuts has made the force analyse how it operates.

He said: “The biggest challenge for us as a force is austerity. Losing officers and closing police stations were not easy decisions to make but we had to make savings and there are still more savings to find.

“I would say the last six to eight years in policing have been the toughest since wartime, but the one thing austerity has allowed us to do is think about how we can work better with our partners.

Special Constable Billy Luetchford (far left) and Pc Peter Carter (far right) went on patrol in Chelmsford with Chief Constable Kavanagh and PCC Roger Hirst. Picture: ARCHANTSpecial Constable Billy Luetchford (far left) and Pc Peter Carter (far right) went on patrol in Chelmsford with Chief Constable Kavanagh and PCC Roger Hirst. Picture: ARCHANT

“Better partnerships with councils and other organisations in our approach to policing in our communities can only be a good thing.”

Mr Kavanagh, whose £200,195 annual salary will remain the same following his contract extension, says the use of technology will allow more visible policing in the county.

He said: “The use of technology with our officers now equipped with smart phones is a major step towards a more modern police force. Before, officers were expected to come back to their stations, fill out mounds of paperwork.

“With the new technology, reports and crime scene photographs can be uploaded to the system straight away, which means a much more efficient service for everyone.”

Chief Constable Kavanagh chatted with residents on patrol in Chelmsford. Picture: ARCHANTChief Constable Kavanagh chatted with residents on patrol in Chelmsford. Picture: ARCHANT

The chief constable, who lost out to Cressida Dick for the position of head of the Met in February, says his job with Essex Police remains his career highlight.

“I am Essex born and bred and it is an absolute privilege to be chief constable for another four years. It isn’t a case of Essex being second best.

“We’ve done so much over the last four years but there is so much more to do and I want the people of Essex to have a police force they can be proud of.”

Mr Hirst said: “The chief constable has shown strong, positive leadership over the last four years and has led the service through a number of significant changes to help modernise and improve how they operate.

“This has led to better treatment for victims of crime and stronger capabilities in terms of tackling online crime and organised crime.

“Today, under the chief constable’s leadership, Essex Police is one of the most improved forces in the country and I look forward to working together over the coming years to continue our ongoing improvement and modernisation of the service.”

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