Essex

Writtle Parish Council meeting with police 'very positive'

Writtle green
Image caption Writtle Parish Council paid a private security firm almost £2,000 to patrol the village over the summer

A parish council that paid a security firm to keep residents safe has agreed to work more closely with Essex Police.

The force has pledged to step up its Neighbourhood Watch, Special Constabulary and Active Citizens schemes in Writtle, following a meeting with parishioners.

The move comes after the parish council spent almost £2,000 on a private firm to police the village.

Ch Insp Gerry Parker said the meeting had been "very productive".

Writtle Parish Council employed S-Type Security to patrol the village and tackle "minor crime" over the summer.

The two-month trial - which was brought in because of "zero police presence" - ended this week.

Image caption The children's playground in Paradise Road is one of the areas that has been affected by anti-social behaviour

Chris Hibbit, chairman of Writtle Parish Council, said that Wednesday's meeting had been "open, honest and very positive" but no firm decision about whether to continue the trial would be made until the next parish council meeting in October.

"We need to get all the data in and decide where to go from there," he explained.

Mr Hibbit added that Essex Police "fully accepted" why the parish council felt the need to employ a private security firm but warned them to "think carefully" about the pros and cons of extending the trial.

Ch Insp Parker, the district commander for Chelmsford, said: "We discussed issues about crime and anti-social behaviour and I provided assurances that the village is safe, with recent statistics showing that reported crime had fallen by 16 per cent over a year from August 2017. This bucks the national trend of an increase in reported crime.

"Parish councillors accepted that no further progression towards longer term use of private security patrols will be considered without wider public, partnership and police consultation."

Essex Police has pledged to create 150 new police officer roles in 2019. Twelve of those will be based in the Chelmsford district.

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