Essex’s Police and Crime Commissioner to visit Uttlesford

Essex Police and Crime Commissioner, Nick Alston

Essex Police and Crime Commissioner, Nick Alston - Credit: Archant

ESSEX’S new Police and Crime Commissioner has urged Uttlesford residents to come and meet him to share their views about how to keep the district safe.

Nick Alston made his appeal through the Reporter newspaper hot on the heels of a new poll by the Electoral Reform Society which found almost 90 per cent of people were unable to name the police and crime commissioner for their area.

Residents will be given an opportunity to suggest ideas on how best to tackle crime when Mr Alston visits Uttlesford District Council’s community forum next Thursday (March 7) at Helena Romanes School in Great Dunmow. The evening will run from 6.30-8.30pm.

Asked by the Reporter whether he backed the ultimate goal set by Uttlesford’s Community Safety Partnership (CSP) to make the district the safest place in the country, he said: “The aspiration to make Uttlesford the safest place in Britain is terrific. We should all be striving to make our communities as safe as possible, and in Uttlesford that means building on some excellent work that already makes the district a very safe place with low crime rates.”

Mr Alston also said he was keen to see the continuity of neighbourhood policing so officers with local knowledge are able to build strong, ongoing, relationships with their communities.

He added: “Talk with your neighbourhood constable and PCSOs and let them know what’s going on in your area. I am committed to the principle of local solutions for local problems, and to ensuring that police, partner agencies, the voluntary sector and residents work together as closely as possible to keep our communities safe.”

Town and district councillor Doug Perry, a former police officer, said Mr Alston needed to look into the force’s decision to continually rotate sergeants around the county if he was serious about the importance of neighbourhood policing.

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“It is essential officers are kept in one place so they get to know local people and people get to know them. It takes years and years to build up local knowledge – when I was a police officer I used to know four generations of the same family,” he said, before adding that he also planned to raise the issue of emergency response teams being moved out of the town.

“Why are residents paying for officers who are not even in our area? The response teams were moved from Dunmow to Braintree and now to Chelmsford because they were unable to meet their response times. The nearest car could come from miles away with no idea what the local issues are.”

The first draft of the four-year Police and Crime Plan for Essex, being put together by Mr Alston, has listed priorities set by Uttlesford’s CSP as areas to tackle in the district, including violent crime, anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse, road incidents, burglaries and fear of crime.

Three major topics relevant to Uttlesford have been chosen for discussion at the meeting next week – police visibility and response times, vehicle crime and rural crime.

But attendees will also be able to discuss any other concerns with Mr Alston during an ‘Any Other Business’ section of the meeting.

The PCC will be accompanied by Uttlesford’s police commander, chief inspector Nick Lee, Uttlesford District Council’s chief executive John Mitchell and Richie Farrant, chairman of the Uttlesford Community Safety Partnership.