Essex's top cop to usher in new era of 'Polite policing'

PUBLISHED: 09:23 10 December 2009 | UPDATED: 07:28 30 May 2010

A VISION of polite policing has been put forward by the new chief constable of Essex. People from the across the district had the chance to grill the county s top cop, Jim Barker-McCardle, at a meeting held at Uttlesford District Council s office on Londo

A VISION of polite policing has been put forward by the new chief constable of Essex.

People from the across the district had the chance to grill the county's top cop, Jim Barker-McCardle, at a meeting held at Uttlesford District Council's office on London Road, Saffron Walden last week.

Before taking questions from the floor, the chief constable admitted that they "received too many complaints saying that officers are neglectful and were not as polite as they could be".

He promised to usher in a new era of courtesy where police officers would keep the public better informed with how they were progressing with investigations.

Mr Barker-McCardle added that, comparatively, Essex was a very safe place to live and would continue to "get safer".

Out of the 670,000 households in Essex, the chief constable said that in any 24-hour period there would be between 18 and 24 that got burgled. And the lowest recorded figure in the last 18 months was just eight houses burgled.

One of the difficulties faced by the police force, said Mr Barker McCardle, was that the fear of crime could be greater than the reality. And this included reports of anti-social behaviour.

"There is a real sinister end to anti-social behaviour, and I wouldn't like to play that down," he said. "But there's nothing wrong with young people walking around in groups. There is a real danger that everything gets sucked into this bucket called anti-social behaviour."

A number of the audience members told Mr Barker-McCardle that they rarely, if ever, saw police offices in their neighbourhood.

The chief constable said that although they had increased frontline police officers by 239 in the last 18 months, policing was not cheap.

"We are trying to put out more officers, but if you said to me that you saw three patrol cars in your street in one day, it wouldn't convince me that the policing was good," he said.

"We have to employ staff doing things which are not visible to you, for example officers working on the internet to stop paedophiles."

Member of Saffron Walden's neighbourhood action panel, Peter Riding, said that for 10 consecutive meetings they had listed speeding as a priority that needed to be tackled, but local officers had not been able to do it.

The chief constable said that speeding did matter to the police, but warned they could not deal with all of the calls they received and had to prioritise. "There's no police force in the country that has the capacity to deal with every speeding call they get," he said.

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