The newly appointed Chief Constable for Essex, Mr Jim Barker- McCardle was welcomed to our Parish Council Meeting by Cllr. Sonia Grantham when he visited our meeting held on Thursday 19th November, accompanied by Mr Robert Chambers, Chairman of the Essex Police Authority.
The visit was at the invitation of our Chairman Sonia Grantham who met with the Chief Constable and made her suggestion to him, at a special meeting held in the Princess Theatre on 13th October, where she and Cllr Leslie Fuller represented the Parish Council. The meeting, called by the Tendring Crime and Disorder Partnership, introduced the New Chief Constable to local authorities in our part of Essex.
This meeting in our village hall annexe, was something of a coup for St Osyth as we were the first Parish Council that Mr McCardle had visited since his appointment. He was advised in advance that our Chairman Sonia and Parish Council police representative Cllr Simon Talbot, had prepared a list of question and queries on which we would like him to comment.
Our order of business for this item went as follows:
The Chairman of the Essex Police Authority Robert Chambers introduced the Chief Constable and gave a brief history on the appointments of Chief Constables in Essex.
The Chief Constable, Jim Barker-McCardle then spoke of his primary objectives during his tenure as Chief Constable;
1. Importance of local policing.
2. The number of police officers working at neighbourhood levels and engaging the community.
3. The importance of pedal cycle patrols.
4. Working with local organizations, such as Parish Councils and Crime Partnerships and gauging how confident residents are of their Councils and police tackling anti-social behaviour.
5. The “APEX” programme (Ambition of Policing in Essex) has so far invested in over 239 extra police officers.
6. Within the public sector there are challenges ahead with contracting budgets which requires significant savings, but not at the cost of front-line policing or police services.
7. Protecting vulnerable people and the threat of organized crime.
Then followed a period of questions, previously prepared by Chairman Sonia Grantham and Cllr Simon Talbot, which had been circulated to Councillors – these were answered by the police team in attendance and shown in bold type.
• In general our Chairman said, we are much happier with the current arrangements in comparison to the last time Robert visited the Parish Council.
Noted and appreciated.
• We would like to retain Dan Foley as our contracted PCSO, rather than having to endure another change when Lee Compton takes over. Whilst we appreciate and would like to retain the two PCSOs being allocated to our village, we would prefer that the one we are guaranteed to keep, i.e. the one we pay for, is the one we have built a good working relationship and invested a lot of time with, ie. Dan Foley. We do not see the need for change and we were not consulted.
I agree continuity is important and develops the trust of people – I will speak to John Hayter and see what can be done – during peak times you will get two PCSO’s
• We are concerned by the frustration experienced by the PCSOs and Neighbourhood Specialist Officers (NSOs) with the lack of support from and constant change of the management team above them.
Because of the many changes now implemented it has been a difficult period, but we are determined to cement stability.
• What percentage of time should NSOs be spending in their allocated village?
It is the objective, depending on operational constraints to expect 80% of scheduled time in St Osyth.
• NSOs should be able to have a flexible work pattern to enable them to maximise their engagement with the village and its events and activities. As it stands they are being allocated to the Witham B shift pattern with little flexibility.
Going into new work patterns and attempting and endeavouring to change shift schedules will result in an improved presence during Thursday to Saturday – on Dec 7th we go into a new shift structure.
• We would like to see the PCSOs gain increased powers to deal with minor offences – Council will be sent the list of powers available to PCSO’s – they do have the powers to apprehend, issue Fixed Penalty Notices and demand names and addresses in certain instances – we are trialling a scheme regarding the practice of pavement parking, by issuing “coloured advisory cards” on an “inform and advisory” basis that will result in a prosecution if the offender continues to park on a pavement.
• We feel that it is imperative that the special situation that St. Osyth has with a winter population of 4000 and a summer population of 24000 is fully understood and that continuity is maintained throughout the year.
St Osyth will receive an increased level of support during these times.
• Availability of Speed Guns for use by the PCSOs and NSOs to perform spot enforcement. As it stands it seems overly difficult, if not impossible, for them to borrow the floating speed gun.
It is planned to utilise an SDR device to monitor vehicle speeds during peak times and once a month do a speed check.
• On the broader subject of NSOs and PCSOs in general, where do you see the future of PCSOs as rumours of them being scrapped abound?
PCSO’s will continue in the foreseeable future. Under the APEX programme we will be able to invest in more fully empowered officers. The Government will in time withdraw funding for PCSO’s (presently we have 462 in Essex) and through natural wastage will not be replaced.
• There are long delays for PCSO's taking cycle and driving tests.
PCSO Lee Compton slipped “through the net”, but is due to take his test on November 20th.
• Hare Coursing has started again.
We rely on intelligence to take action – under the “Farm Watch” Scheme, residents are to call Clacton to report an incident.
• Are horse stables and tack rooms ever checked during patrols?
Not on a regular basis – there is a “horse watch” scheme in place and any incident should be reported to Brightlingsea Police Station.
• Is there any point in funding a PCSO when PC’s and NSO’s are attending Parishes?
It is for every Parish to consider the cost of part funding a PCSO – the advantage of a PCSO over a PC, is that a PCSO will patrol his designated area during his shift, whereas a PC could be called away at any time for operational requirements. Crime reduction statistics for St Osyth is very encouraging since our first PCSO was assigned to the Parish
(Note. This was PCSO Tony Shrubsall – April 2006).