About the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner(PFCC)for Essex
Essex covers 1,420 square miles and includes one of the largest sections of coastline in the country, measuring some 400 miles. The county comprises 75% agricultural land, with a number of significant urban areas, including Chelmsford, Basildon, Thurrock and Southend. It has approximately 900km of roads, including significant parts of the strategic road network. 129km of this is motorway, including considerable stretches of the M25 and M11 motorways. The county also has 343 km of railway, including seven underground stations.
Stansted Airport is the UK’s fourth busiest air terminal and handled 28 million passengers in 2018, while approximately 2 million passengers travelled through Southend Airport in the same year. The London Gateway port at Corringham is part of the UK’s fastest-growing deep-sea container terminal and logistics hub, while the port of Harwich provides passenger and freight links to the Netherlands. For the fire and rescue service, Coryton oil refinery and more than 14,000 listed buildings represent other locations of note. In total, the county has 20 sites identified as being high hazard and so covered under the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations.
The population of Essex is 1.8 million, which is expected to grow by 200,000 between 2016 and 2030 as the number of houses in the county rises by 130,000. The coming years will also see development of Tilbury’s second port, the Lower Thames Crossing and Bradwell B power station. Local government partners include a county council, 12 district councils and two unitary authorities. Our close proximity to the capital brings challenges in terms of crime and public safety and also population and financial pressures through the associated high cost of living. Against this backdrop, it is unsurprising that the PFCC for Essex oversees one of the largest police forces and one of the largest fire and rescue services in the country outside of London.
Despite experiencing a recent increase in all crime, particularly violent crime, in line with the rest of England and Wales, Essex remains a safe county. In the year to 31 December 2019, 168,218 crimes were recorded, an increase of 11.2% over the previous 12 months. This, coupled with the changing nature of crime, particularly the disproportionate increase in high-harm and more complex crime types, increases the demand we face, which can be masked when looking solely at volume of crime figures. However the investment made by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) and the Chief Constable in front-line policing – through recruitment and ensuring our workforce is digitally skilled, equipped and enabled to meet the challenges of changing crime types – is producing results. In 2019, the force solved 704 more crimes, a 3.2% improvement on 2018. However, our solved rate dropped by 1.1%, which, again, may be attributed to the increasing severity and complexity of the crimes recorded and investigated.
For the PFCC, safe and secure communities are the bedrock on which we build safe and secure communities for all. Our strategic plans aims to ensure that, wherever possible, we prevent crime and harm from happening in the first place; that police and fire and rescue services are close to the communities they serve, and that local people feel confident in the actions being taken to keep them safe, and get involved in this through volunteering and community action.
The PFCC for Essex is at the cutting edge of national developments in collaboration across police and fire and rescue services. In October 2017, having made the first successful business case to the Home Secretary to take on joint governance of police and fire and rescue services under the Policing and Crime Act 2017, Roger Hirst – then the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex – became the country’s first Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. Since then, in March 2019, he has launched the country’s first Fire and Rescue Plan, setting out the strategic objectives for the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service. Essex is also part of a ground-breaking collaboration across seven police forces in the eastern region to secure resilience and best value for money across a range of functions and initiatives.
Much positive change has already been secured across police and fire and rescue services in Essex. During 2019/20, we recruited 215 new police officers and will recruit an extra 151 police officers in 2020/21 to bring our force strength to more than 3,369 by 31 March 2021 – in excess of 500 more police officers protecting and serving our county than there were in 2017/18. By 2023, Essex Police will be the strongest it has ever been. In addition, Essex Police now has the largest and fastest growing special constabulary outside of London and, working with our partners on the Safer Essex Roads Partnership (SERP), we are on target to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on Essex roads by 40% against the baseline average of 2005-2009 by the end of 2020. However the PFCC continues to push for continuous improvement through both the Police and Crime Plan and the Fire and Rescue Plan. This is your opportunity to play a critical role in delivering these plans and ambitions.