CUTS to policing are “destroying lives” with a knife related crime in Southend every day.

Data released following a freedom of information request revealed the number of recorded offences shot up across Essex in 2016, shortly after £63million in police spending cuts were announced.

One of the biggest increases in offences involving knives and sharp objects was in Southend where the number rose from 195 in 2015 to 310 in 2016, an increase of almost 60 per cent.

A similar increase was seen in Thurrock where crime jumped from 144 offences in 2015 to 226 in 2016 and in Basildon where crime rose from 199 to 279.

The increases have mainly come under the category of “violence against the person”, with Southend seeing a 67 per cent increase in that category.

In 2017 the figure for knife related offences was 367 recorded offences - the highest figure for the whole county.

Essex Police were forced to make several significant cuts at the beginning of 2016 as part of cost-cutting measures, including closing several police stations and slashing PCSOs who play a key part in neighbourhood policing.


The 2016 cuts did not see any cuts to operation police officers but they did come shortly after a previous round of cuts in 2011, which saw the force lose hundreds of frontline officers.

Independent Southend Councillor Martin Terry said: “Recent statistics show there was a dramatic drop in gang and knife crime in Glasgow due to a major increase in neighbourhood policing - this is the exact opposite of what we have done here in Essex.

“Our police do a very good job but they can’t be in two places at once.

“People’s lives are being destroyed by these mindless cuts.”

Southend councillor Mark Flewitt, who oversees public protection, said: “If you said that just because there is a reduction in police it makes people go out and commit crime then I would say for some that is true but for others there is no logical explanation for their crimes.

“Having more police won’t put an end to crime but it may put an end to such high peaks as it may put off the weaker willed criminals.”

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that crime levels nationally were also at a fairly consistent level between 2012 and 2015 but then rose significantly from 2016 onwards.

It notes that the rises seen in recent years are due to a combination of factors including better police measures in tackling domestic abuse, which is included within the category of violence against the person.

Offences involving all weapons are rising in Southend.

There were 182 weapon possession offences between April 2017 and March 2018, according to data by the Office for National Statistics.

This figure is up by 52.9 per cent on 2016-17, when 119 incidents were recorded during the same time frame.