Colchester residents have been urged to work with the Police to fight crime and make their neighbourhoods safer.
In a public meeting held at Colchester Town Hall on Monday 27th November, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, Roger Hirst and the Colchester District Commander, Shaun Kane addressed residents’ concerns and outlined their plans for the future of policing in Colchester.
Speaking to a full house in the Grand Jury Room, Mr Kane called upon residents to make use of modern technologies and to act as the eyes and ears of their neighbourhoods.
Setting out his priorities for policing, he said: “What does success look like to me? Reducing crime, creating safer neighbourhoods, making use of the crucial partnerships we have built up in communities.”
“Dealing with violent crime and the night time economy and dealing with drugs, associated violence and ASB.”
“There has been a shift in the types of crimes that have been reported. There has been a 300% increase in online crime such as bullying, harassment and crimes of violence without injury. We need to police in a more modern way.”
Mr Kane urged residents to make use of the online reporting facility Essex Police- do it online in non-emergency cases.
There was concern from residents that Special Constables were being recruited on a volunteer basis, as a result of funding cuts and that this was impacting on the quality of policing in Colchester.
Mr Hirst responded: “When I took up post, it was my intention to double the number of Specials from around 350 to 700. The latest recruitment campaign has been very successful, with over 1000 applicants.”
“We now have 400 Specials and rising. I must be very clear though that Specials are not replacing officers. We have 400 Specials in comparison to the 2800 Officers.”
He further added: “Funding is an issue for us and I have taken part in a National Media campaign to raise the profile of budget restraints in policing. We have made a request to Central Government for £440m for 2018/19 and £845m for 2019/20.”
Following concerns from residents in Colchester’s Dutch Quarter around the lack of visible policing, in particular following events held in the Town’s Castle Park, such as the recent Oktoberfest, Mr Kane made a plea for public assistance.
He called upon residents to join Community Speed Watch or to form a Neighbourhood Watch adding “More Neighbourhood Watch schemes are needed for a town the size of Colchester, particularly with such rapid expansion.”
“We rely on people to report crimes to us to build intelligence; very few arrests happen that don’t involve wider intelligence.”
Mr Kane went on to praise Dave Harris (Lab), Councillor for Berechurch for the way he worked with the police to deliver a “Street Week” during October.
Street Weeks are recognised by the Home Office as Good Practice and are where the Police and a number of other agencies work together in a set location for 7 days, 24 hours a day to maximise the impact of co-working in Neighbourhoods.
Mr Kane told the audience containing many Colchester Borough Councillors: “I am looking to replicate the behaviours of Dave Harris across all 27 wards in Colchester, by holding a number of Street Weeks.”
“They won’t always be held in areas with the highest crime levels, but where the biggest impact is made. I am hoping that more Street Weeks will lead to an increase in Active Citizen applications”.
Active Citizens are people who actively take responsibility and initiative in areas of public concern such as crime prevention and the local community. More information about becoming and Active Citizen can be found here.