Essex Police recognises that with fewer neighbourhood PC’s in rural areas with the current round of budget cuts that there is a perceived lack of engagement and high visibility policing to the rural community which has led to a lack of confidence. This initiative is aimed to try and support Essex Police with providing a dedicated service to the rural community it serves whilst looking at retention and deployment of the special constabulary.
Identifying the problem
- Multiple crime trends including equine, heritage and rural crime such as high value theft of plant and fuel, criminal damage, anti-social behaviour along with assaults and threats associated with hare coursing.
- Lack of confidence from the rural community and a under reporting of crime in rural locations.
- The rural community needed a specialist response to issues they were facing, along with understanding of their specific issues.
- A specialist response would allow much better intelligence lead approach and also address typical under-reporting of crime.
Legislation changes - Existing
- We used existing legislation, but with a partnership approach – such as local rangers and local councils with additional powers to support the role.
- The team work alongside our Local Policing Support Unit officers and the Essex Community Traveller Unit to enforce current legislation.
Legislation changes - New
- We have developed working relationships with some of our CESAS Accredited rural companies.
- To support bordering forces we are actively engaged in cross border meetings when they take place to develop better working relations and increase information sharing.
- Training provided for the Team by PC Andy Long on Wildlife Crime legislation and the use of police powers
- A proactive team of 14 Special Constables led by a S/Insp and 2 S/Sgts and with 11 SC’s established to tackle issues taking a dynamic approach to locations relating to demand.
- The team have been split into two bases – Chelmsford to cover South and West of Essex and – Copford concentrating on the North of Essex, undertaking specialist training and having the availability of dedicated vehicles to allow them to patrol.
- Officers are supported by Crime Prevention Tactical Advisors and Essex Watch Liaison Officers to role out initiatives and best working practice.
- The team are tasked weekly by the Local Policing Support Unit and deployed on an intelligence-led basis, providing high-visibility policing along with covert work to discourage crime along with bring those accountable to justice.
- The team works closely with the Police & Crime Commissioner’s rural crime forum which includes members of the farm watch scheme and Neighbourhood Watch.
- Being present and visible for members of the rural community has had a big impact, we have developed better engagement opportunities forging those relationships which enable the two-way flow of intelligence, improved reporting of crime and suspicious activity.
What didn't work
The unit is serviced solely by Special Constabulary volunteers; this restricts the amount of time the team can patrol and with increased demands from the expanding geographical coverage we are unable to offer 24/7 coverage.
- Two bases for the Team has spread the availability of the Team across Essex and has increased the availability of suitable vehicles.
- The team have an increased working relationship with the rural community and we are currently looking to expand the team by recruiting directly from the rural community.
- The introduction of Rural Crime Days of Action, where the team supported by Local Policing Support Unit target Rural related crime.
- The tasking process had originally caused delays in the teams deployment and didn’t cover the full force. Changes have been introduced to rectify these problems.
- With the support of transport services and partnership with local policing teams we have changed the vehicles originally activated to further support rural policing.
- We are working on ways to develop our engagement with local businesses and organisations to better support the rural community.