Since the closure of police stations in Pitsea, Rochford and Rayleigh, concerns have grown that antisocial behaviour is increasing dramatically.

It has been argued by councillors in the Rochford district and Basildon borough that with a lack of police presence in the areas, residents are becoming less likely to report any incidents that they see happening in their streets.

Neil Hookway, councillor for Foulness and The Wakerings, says those concerns have been considered by Rochford District Council’s review committee.

He said: “Sitting on the review committee we have had the Rochford community policing team come in and show us figures that have shown that the amount of antisocial behaviour in our area is certainly down compared to previously. Although that is positive, it begs the question, are the figures down because less residents are reporting incidents to the police?”


Former Pitsea Police Station

Michael Mowe, councillor for Wickford North, was among the residents who campaigned against the closure of Wickford police station around five years ago. He says that because of Wickford being placed into a new system whereby its police community officers are based in Basildon, response times are slower and the presence of police in the area has decreased.

He said: “I had a meeting on Monday with the neighbourhood policing team, the neighbourhood watch and residents.

“They do feel there is a lack of police presence because the police have created what they call “hubs” and work as part of Basildon. That means all the police in the area are based there and residents say at times they see some 15 officers outside the station changing over shifts. There is certainly a problem with police not being in the right place at the right time and neighbourhood policing has been stretched significantly.”

Although the police in Wickford are under major pressure to keep the streets safe on limited numbers, the community in the town has started to work alongside the team.

He added: “I campaigned against the police station closing because I think there needs to be a place where the police can have refreshments, write reports and Essex Police are not the only teams which are affected. Something that has helped the area is the Wickford crime group, a residents’ online group who report incidents to residents in Wickford. Community groups have become the eyes and ears of the area and they really help the policing team while stretched.


Former Rochford Police Station

“People are becoming more aware of what is around them but myself, I think there needs to be a bigger presence in the area.”

The lack of police presence in Wickford is also felt in Southend and Mark Flewitt, councillor for St Laurence Ward, has also said that there are major concerns among the council about the lack of police on Southend’s streets.

He said: “I think a lot of my colleagues in all different groups think there has been a rise in antisocial behaviour because our police presence is low at times.

“I have said that a new balance needs to be addressed in terms of funding and something that will make sure there is a difference in the number of police is very important.

“The Government is starting to balance various things but we need to look at certain things and police numbers is one of them.”

Mr Flewitt feels that in order to let residents know that police are in the area, they need to be more visible in the street.

He added that police stations, although they are important to communities, are not the biggest aspect that needs to be assessed.

He said: “Residents notice that there are not enough police and we just have not got the numbers. I do not think that there is much use in having more stations. I think it is is not so much about having static policing in a station, you need one but it is more important to have more police to respond on a 24 hours a day, seven days a week basis.

“It is regrettable currently that it is not the case.”

The lack of police presence on south Essex streets are becoming a noticeable concern for the representatives of the area. They however are confident that belief in the community policing teams are still as strong as before. It is hoped that the future will see a new rise in police numbers and visibility.