POLICE teams dedicated to keeping Essex town centres safe have made more than 1,000 arrests and led 2,000 investigations in the year since they were formed.

The Essex Police Town Centre Teams were formed in July last year to create more visible policing to tackle anti-social behaviour and other crimes in the heart of Essex towns.

The teams have worked hard to make towns safer by catching drug dealers, shoplifters, those carrying weapons, as well as dealing with anti-social behaviour.

Recent successes include the execution of a warrant at a ‘chop shop’ in which several stolen vehicles were recovered. This investigation is still ongoing and was the result of intelligence gathered by the team in Loughton.

The teams have worked directly with residents and their feedback, and have increased the information and intelligence they receive to prevent crime in the future.

The Basildon team have solved 180 crimes in their first year including shop lifting offences, drugs-related crimes and possession of offensive weapons.

The team in Southend have seen a number of successes, including working with the local council to combat illegal shellfish harvesting.

They carried out a week-long operation which saw 29 pickers spoken to and the seizure of £11,000 worth of illegally harvested shellfish.

The Braintree and Witham teams have been working with schools to identify those at risk and use effective partnership work to prevent antisocial behaviour among young people.

This is linked to work to educate and prevent young people from becoming involved in knife and violent crime under Operation Sceptre.

Across the county the teams have been carrying out targeted searches in parks and other open areas which has resulted in a number of weapons being recovered and removed from our streets.

Venues across Essex have helped to accommodate the use of knife arches to detect weapons and to raise awareness of the dangers of carrying knives.

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Nolan said: “We want to thank you for welcoming our officers into your communities.

Chelmsford Weekly News:

Rachel Nolan 

"They have become part of them as we all come together to fight crime and anti-social behaviour, making our town centres safer for all those who live, work or visit Essex.

“By working together, we can keep the tide turning and put a stop to anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and other insidious crimes which cause irreparable harm to families, friends and our communities.”

The police saw 58 new officers passing out earlier this month, and this year we will be investing in even more officers dedicated to local policing.

Twenty new Community Safety Engagement Officers (CSEOs), who will support their policing teams are starting to move into their posts now.

Ms Nolan continued: “We are increasing the numbers of new officers who will be bolstering our work to protect and serve our communities and catch the bad guys.

“Our new CSEOs will be looking at solving those longer term problems which really do affect people’s quality of life, at addressing issues that are priorities for communities and telling you about what they are doing so you know more about what’s happening in your town.”

Since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown in March, the Town Centre Teams carried out extra patrols to help protect closed businesses and since June we have worked in partnership with them and councils as they reopen.

Denise Rossiter, Chief Executive of Essex Chambers of Commerce, said: “Since the launch of the Town Centre Teams in Essex this time last year, public confidence has increased which was welcomed by business who were seeing a much-needed increase in income generation.

“It is absolutely essential that as lockdown reduces there will be an even greater need for these Teams to be visible and to help instil confidence and assurances as the High Street comes back to trading full time.”

Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “We provide the funding to enable Essex Police to boost officer numbers making the force the strongest it’s been in many years.

Chelmsford Weekly News:

Roger Hirst 

“After listening to the public and local businesses and traders it’s clear that people want more officers in their town centres and the launch of these teams last year, alongside other expansions to the rural, business crime, schools and roads policing teams are a big success.

"People are very pleased to have them there and are reassured to have them around.

“Local, visible and accessible policing and preventing crime from happening in the first place are key priorities in our Police and Crime Plan.

"I would like to personally thank everyone who makes this possible and every single officer, member of police staff, volunteers and our local partner agencies who work together every day in these teams - making such a difference to keeping Essex safe and secure.”