Uttlesford chief inspector: ‘There is a 24/7 police footprint in district’

THE public perception about a lack of police officers in Uttlesford has been countered by the district’s chief inspector.

Speaking at the Uttlesford Community Forum event earlier this month, Chf Insp Nick Lee reassured people that there was a 24/7 police presence in the district despite claims to contrary.

Uttlesford “definitely gets its fair share of the cake”, he told the gathering of just over 50 people at the Helena Romanes School in Dunmow.

Chf Insp Lee also said a “significant number” of officers had been moved back to Saffron Walden because of a public perception about the lack of policing in the town.

“We now have a 24/7 footprint in the town and are confident we are able to deal with the demand,” he explained.

The audience was told there had been a “significant change in the police service across the country over the last 12 months” which had “affected Uttlesford in a number of ways”. But Chf Insp Lee made it clear officers were “still in a good position to deal with crime and criminality in the district”.

His understudy Insp Mick Couldridge reiterated the message, before adding “having a police officer on every corner for people to see” was not the best way to service such a vast area.

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Insp Couldridge said with the police service “limited in numbers” resources were instead deployed to monitor areas where criminals were known to be operating.

He added: “If you don’t see an officer in your street, it’s probably a good thing, because it means there are no criminals nearby and you live in a safe area.”

The controversial move of emergency response teams from Dunmow to Braintree was later addressed – a change critics claimed would have a negative effect on Uttlesford when it was made six months ago.

A serving officer told the Reporter last October that it “had only been made purely to meet response times in the county” and would adversely affect response times, particularly to the north of the district.

Chf Insp Lee attempted to alleviate concerns by clarifying that emergency support was still present in Uttlesford around the clock.

“The emergency response and patrol teams deploy from Braintree but do not spend their time there.

“There are three dedicated areas in Uttlesford where the teams patrol and where they remain until they return to Braintree to go off duty at the end of their shift,” he explained.

The new PCC Nick Alston, pictured, said: “One of the things I campaigned on and have been keen to push through is about rofessionalism and response times.

“Most people say policing is Essex is pretty good but the time of response could be better.

“We will be looking at how quickly police get to incidents because it did go up to pretty poor levels – a year ago they were nowhere but now they are back up to where the police want them to be.”