Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, has welcomed the introduction, by Essex Police, of a new Town Centre Team in Clacton.

Launched on 22nd July, these new Town Centre Teams will work in 23 locations across Essex and will consist of 58 Police Constables and 12 Sergeants. In Clacton, the team will be made up of four officers – three constables and one sergeant.

In terms of their focus, these teams, in close association with existing Community Policing Teams, will focus on tackling community concerns, including drug dealing and antisocial behaviour, and will work closely with local businesses and support groups to get to the root causes of issues. The teams will also work with businesses experiencing issues with the night time economy, like bars and clubs, to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour.

The launch of these Town Centre Teams delivers on the commitment of Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, to increase the visible policing presence in town centres and around the night time economy. Moreover, Essex Police have also announced that their Gypsy Traveller and Rural Engagement Team (GTRET) will be growing from September with 4 new police constables and a sergeant, followed by additional officers in early 2020. Essex Police have recognised that rural areas face unique challenges and will work with partner agencies and local communities to tackle issues such as unauthorised traveller encampments, hare coursing, and flytipping.

Overall, following the increase in the 2019/2020 policing precept, Essex Police have recruited an extra 218 officers, and these were in addition to the 150 officers recruited as a result of the 2018/2019 policing precept increase. Undoubtedly, this increase in officer numbers has only been possible as a result of the extra funding secured through an increase to the policing precept, which was a direct result of the campaign Giles led in Parliament. And, in the policing district that includes the Clacton constituency, this successful campaign has delivered an extra 27 officers, which includes the 4 new officers beginning work as part of the new Town Centre Team. 

Speaking about the creation of the Town Centre Teams, Chief Constable BJ Harrington said:

“My priorities for the force are clear: we will be visible to deter crime in the community, we will provide better and consistent support to victims and to the vulnerable and we will act against anyone who is intent on inflicting violence in our county.

“With the introduction of the Town Centre Teams, we can be at the centre of these conversations. The public know their local area the best, and so do local officers who can put their boots on the ground and their faces in the village hall. If people have got an issue, or suspect criminal acts are taking place in their community, I need them to feel comfortable reporting it to us. If we work together we can keep the tide turning and put a stop to antisocial behaviour, drug dealing, and other insidious crimes that cause irreparable harm to families, friends and whole communities.

“With a record number of officers passing out in a single ceremony last month, our force is continuing to grow. I am so proud that we’re able to have response-trained officers to answer your 999 calls and, on top of that, provide additional officers to your community.”

Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, Roger Hirst added:

“Good local policing is at the heart of all safe, prosperous communities. These town centre teams mark a significant investment and will allow Essex Police to work even more closely with residents and businesses to create the safe and secure communities we all need to prosper.

“Increasing the local, visible nature of policing, cracking down on anti-social behaviour and working with communities and businesses to prevent crime were key priorities in my 2016 Police and Crime Plan. Today’s announcement is another significant step in delivering a policing service for Essex that listens and responds to the needs of the people of Essex.”

Giles said: “I know that many residents do not feel safe in Clacton town centre, as many have contacted me recently to say so. These new Town Centre Teams are a direct response to that and a visible representation of how the increase in funding, from the taxpayer, is being delivered.

“I stressed previously to Essex Police that funding through an increased precept must lead to frontline officers and I am pleased that is the case. I have no doubt that these hard-working officers will make a real difference in our town centre, and across the wider constituency.”