Article for Tiptree Tribune

12th October 2015
Readers will have seen in the news the changes and reforms to policing which have been proposed by Essex Police. Although these proposals have been developed in response to the financial pressures caused by economic mismanagement of the last Labour Government, many of the reforms are designed to ensure that Essex Police can modernise to adapt to changes in crime and policing work.
 
Police officers do a fantastic job protecting us and investigating crimes. This must continue and the police have assured me that the reforms are designed to focus resources on supporting frontline policing. The Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner are ensuring that savings can be made to the back office and administration costs. Old and underused buildings which cost millions of pounds to maintain are being disposed of. In my constituency, this will mean that the police station in Witham and base used in Feering will be disposed of. 
 
I know that this will cause some concern and anxiety to residents. These buildings are a sign of law enforcement and their disappearance will be unsettling. However, it is not buildings, bricks and mortar that stop criminals and protect the public. It is police officers that protect the public and investigate crimes. The removal of old and underused police stations and property must not lead to the end of policing in an area. At a time when resources are limited, it would be difficult to justify spending money maintaining buildings that are not fit for purpose instead of frontline policing. 
 
Savings from rationalising and reducing the police estate should be used to support the police respond to crime and the excellent work that specialist units undertake, such as those police officers dealing with domestic violence cases.  
 
Reforms to the system of communications should also make it easier for the public to report crime by the telephone, email and online.
 
With the scale of savings needed, it is inevitable that there will be reductions in the number of PCSOs operating in the County. Other police forces are also planning similar measures. To ensure that police in Essex continue to provide a high-quality service to residents there will be more focus on intelligence-led policing and work with partner agencies, local authorities and the NHS to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour. To support this aim, Community Policing Teams will be used to engage with local communities, support vulnerable victims and address local issues such as the anti-social behaviour with local partners. 
 
I expect the police to spend the next few months engaging with the public to discuss the changes with them to ensure that when the proposals are implemented they have the confidence of the public.
 
These measures will change policing in the County and I would encourage those interested in this issue to review the proposals online at the website below. I would welcome readers’ feedback, comments, suggestions and concerns and would be glad to make representations to the police with your views. 
 
 
The financial pressures faced by the police have been brought about as a direct consequence of the record levels of borrowing under the last Labour Government and the need to bring down the deficit. By taking action to reduce the deficit and turn the economy round the Government is now ensuring that investment in public services, including the NHS, schools and police, can continue on a sustainable footing.
 

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