At a heated public meeting with the Essex Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), in the Saffron Walden Town Hall this week, R4U asked for significant changes in Uttlesford policing, including the resignation of the PCC, to stem the more than doubling of crime in Saffron Walden in two years.
Cllrs Barbara Light and Paul Fairhurst outside the closed and padlocked Saffron Walden Police Station
R4U’s Cllr Barbara Light, who asked for the PCC to resign at the meeting, said afterward “The Saffron Walden residents I represent are furious and we demand change. At the previous public meeting the Police & Crime Commissioner told us that petty crime, shop lifting and robbery were lower priorities and so we should no longer expect to see visible policing on our streets. But the crime we’re experiencing isn’t petty. Over the last year mobs with metal rods have violently beaten our children; shops and business have been robbed in broad daylight by armed gangs; our banks have been raided; and fearful residents have locked themselves in rooms whilst burglars have raided their homes. This crime is nasty and spiralling, and the criminals know the police don’t have the resources to protect people.”
The numbers tell the story
Doubling of Crime in Saffron Walden
The police’s own statistics show a year-on-year increase in crime in Saffron Walden. The latest reported month (source: Police.uk Essex report September 2017) shows 104 crimes in Saffron Walden, up 57% from the 67 in September 2016, which again was up 43% from the 47 crimes in September 2015. This is a more than doubling in 2 years, with huge increases in the more serious crimes of robbery, criminal damage, arson, violence and sexual offences.
Worse At Catching Criminals
The HMIC annual report on Essex police is available on their website. The overall rating for Essex Police is ‘good’, however the report shows some worrying trends:
There is a significant increase in crime in Essex compared with the rest of the country, both over the last 5 years and particularly in the last year:
- Reported crime is up 12.9% year-on-year, compared with an increase of 7.8% year-on-year nationally, which is a 65% greater increase in Essex.
- The 5 year figure shows an increase in reported crime in Essex of 10.9%. This compares with a 3.4% REDUCTION in crime nationally.
Essex police are 20% worse at catching criminals:
- Police ‘outcomes’ in Essex are below national levels: only 9.7% charged/summonsed vs 12.1% nationally. That is 20% below the national average.
Residents are 13% less satisfied with Essex police than nationally:
- Essex Police has a 72.8% satisfaction rating compared with 83.3% nationally, which is 13% below the national average.
Essex Police earn a “Requires Improvement” rating for “protecting those who are vulnerable from harm, and supporting victims.”
Police Commissioner cuts actual policing but increases own budget
In the latest published year accounts (source: Essex Police website) the Essex Police Commissioner increased the costs of his office/function by 4%, while receiving 5% more from the council tax precept, but the actual policing operational costs were cut by 3%.
About Residents for Uttlesford
Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local independent party of north-west Essex towns and villages. Formed in 2014 by a number of residents’ groups, the party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not Westminster parties. R4U’s success has been based on the desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.
R4U leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In the May 2019 R4U gained majority control of UDC winning two-thirds of the seats. The result delivered the biggest loss of seats by any UK Conservative controlled council in the UK. In 2021 the party won half the Essex County Council seats in Uttlesford district.
R4U also leads Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards, including the best run council in Essex. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.
Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org.