Agenda item

Presentation from the District Commander for Epping Forest and Brentwood

To receive a virtual presentation from the District Commander for Epping Forest and Brentwood, Chief Inspector Paul Ballard on current policing and crime issues in the District.


The Interim District Commander for Epping Forest and Brentwood, Chief Inspector Paul Ballard advised that he had been seconded to this position for approximately 5/6 months, in place of Chief Inspector Ant Alcock who had been seconded to the Major Investigation Team.


The Chief Inspector advised that over the last 12 months performance had been good, although the data had still been impacted by Covid. It was noted that reports of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) had reduced by 51% and this was probably due to how covid breaches were being reported as ASB. There had been a 4% increase of all crimes, which had been attributed to covid and how crimes had been recorded. However, within Epping Forest, robbery had reduced by 11%, personal robbery was down by 14% and residential robbery down by 24%. Unfortunately, there had been an increase of 17% in violence against person offences and a 13% increase in violence with injury but there was on going work in this area. In additions to these figures further work was being carried out to improve public engagement in the district.


The Committee asked the following questions:


  • Had domestic violence been included in the violence against persons offences figures and was there any data available on domestic violence figures in the district? The C/Insp advised that the common assaults figures would include domestic violence and within the district there had been a 6% increase in offences reported to the police.
  • What engagement was occurring between the police and residents and how it could be improved? The C/Insp advised that engagement throughout the covid period had been very challenging, although improvements were required on a face-to-face basis which would include pre-pandemic events such as coffee with cops; forums; community events; and residents’ meetings.
  • Could the rural crime figures for the district be provided? The C/Insp advised that he would need to consult his Rural Engagement Team based in Chelmsford, although there was a Rural Specialist PC Officer, Andy Cooke for the District, as well as the neighbourhood beat officers.
  • Did the police have plans in conjunction with TFL to monitor large groups of people entering the district via the underground stations? The C/Insp acknowledged that the underground stations were a focal point and had been affected by seasonal changes. There were several events in and around the district and plans were being put in place to monitor these events. Furthermore, there was also great partnership working between the Council, CSP and TFL and if the large groups involving young people were to become an issue, the Police would look for alternative methods to disperses people gathering, if required.
  • How many of the 200 newly recruited police officers would be placed in the district? The C/Insp advised that formal recruitment was dealt with by a central office, although the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) had committed to continue the uplift in community policing in town centres.
  • Did the recruitment process in Essex differ from the MET? The C/Insp advised that he did not know what the recruitment process for the MET was like, although the Essex recruitment process involved several assessments prior to the vetting stage which was then followed by a robust and lengthy training period. This was reviewed and amended in accordance with national guidelines.
  • Would the police be carrying out any speed checks within the district? The C/Insp advised that speed checks were being carried out in the district. Centrally, work was on going with the road safety support team, in and around Fyfield and Waltham Abbey. It was noted that residents could advise the police of areas within the district that had road safety issues and the community speed watch groups worked extremely well.
  • Did the police work in conjunction with the highways authority to implement road cameras? The C/Insp advised that when several collisions occurred at a certain location, the highways authority would liaison with the police to collate the data to support recommendations for that location.
  • How could the police assist with safety on rural roads? The C/Insp advised that the police were there to enforce the law and not to design, direct, change or implement traffic calming measures or speed restrictions as this would be in the remit of the highway’s authority.
  • Could the police monitor the rural roads for vehicles fly tipping? The C/Insp advised that the law would be changing with regards to the enforcement of flying tipping. At present, it was the responsibility of the Council.
  • Do the police inform Essex Highways of fatalities? The C/Insp advised that he did not inform the relevant highways authority although this was not to say that it did not happen through either the Safer Roads Bureau, Roads Policing Team, or support staff.
  • What support did the Community Speed Watch training officer get and were the statics available for the road accidents? The C/Insp advised that support would be given to the relevant officer to train Community Speed Watch volunteers. He would confirm where the data could be found and get back to the Committee. 
  • Did the police have the capacity to engage with schools? The C/Insp advised that there were 2 Young Persons Officers who worked with the secondary schools within the district.
  • Do PCSO have the authority to issue penalty charge notices for parking on pavements? The C/Insp advised that the Chief Constables delegated powers of authority to their PCSO, and he would have to check what powers had been delegated.
  • Do officers have the capacity to attend residents’ properties to assess and make recommendations on how to secure their properties? The C/Insp advised that unfortunately they did not have the capacity for this. Although, where required, residents would be referred onto Crime and Prevention Advisors.
  • Where there any initiatives to cut organised car crime in the district? The C/Insp advised that there were several initiatives involving cross-border collaboration, darker night patrols, special vehicle recovery unit and intelligence led investigations.


The Customer & Partnerships Services Portfolio Holder advised that the Safer Essex Road Partnership looked at problematic hot spot for traffic collisions and recorded data on personal injury or death related accidents. Regarding pavement parking, he advised that outside Greater London, parking on pavement was not illegal and enforcement could only be for obstruction. There were ongoing discussion at Government level regarding this issue and if delegated, the Council would look to NEPP to enforce.


·         Could an update be given on successful initiatives that had prevented crime in the district? The C/Insp advised that there were no current updates, although operations may be occurring.

·         The pandemic had changed the way many people worked, which had been reflected in local towns and high streets becoming busier. Had this effected crime? The C/Insp advised that there had been changes in crime trends although there had been nothing specific in relation to town centres. Furthermore, the Council funded Police officers were currently working on reports of pick-pockets gangs working in Epping, High Street on market day.     

* C/Insp Ballard gave the following responses after the meeting.


Was the District specific RTC data periodically published and accessible?


This was available on the Safer Essex Roads website – district casualty data -


Do any of your teams offer specific additional support for speeding, road safety operations etc?


Chigwell would take over the management of OP CALYPSO funding from April 1st which would allow for a far greater focus on local road safety issues including speed enforcement. The team was also using a new Laser Cam 4 device which allowed enforcement at night. We would also be recruiting 3 additional police staff members during the summer to also enforce speed. At present a member of my team was reviewing our speed enforcement strategy to reflect what changes were needed to make in line with Vision Zero. On the Twitter account, there was significant speed enforcement around EFDC.


It was suggested that there may be scope for a joint police & council enforcement operation in relation to illegal waste carriers and similar offending to assist in tackling the issue of fly tipping in rural areas. Was this something that your teams might be interested in?


We regularly carry out OP NASH days of action in Loughton / Waltham Abbey. These were days planned and set by the Partnership. Samantha Wright was our planner and link and would be very happy to support and enhance those days.