Chelmsford & Maldon: Meet the District Commander, Chief Inspector Paul Ballard
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Reducing violence to make our communities safer is a top priority for Chief Inspector Paul Ballard.
And key to ensuring Chelmsford and Maldon are safe places to live, work and visit is working with local partner agencies and increasing our visibility in, and engaging with, our communities.
Chief Inspector Ballard, who has a variety of policing experience during an 18-year career, both in uniform and as a detective, says:
“Chelmsford and Maldon are fantastic places to live and work and there’s a great community feel to both districts. “My top priorities are to reduce violence in all its forms, particularly violence against women and girls, and to encourage you to tell us about your concerns and issues so we can work with local partner agencies to take action and make Chelmsford and Maldon even safer. “For us, that means being visible and approachable. We spend as much time as possible in our diverse communities, working hard to prevent and deal with crime and anti-social behaviour.”
High-visibility policing patrols, with staff from other agencies, act as a deterrent and, of course, give people the opportunity to talk to their local officers about matters of concern, says Chief Inspector Ballard.
“In the city and in towns and villages across both districts, my community and town centre policing teams are dedicated to tackling violence and other offences connected with the night-time economy, particularly those committed against women and girls. “We use information received from the public and our partners to identify issues and target operations to deal with them and we work closely with council CCTV operators to identify incidents, apprehend suspects and obtain key evidence for court.”
It’s also used to inform Operation Community, where officers combat issues raised by local people, combining engagement and crime prevention with a proactive approach.
The emphasis is on listening to the local community, problem-solving and investigating all concerns to achieve the best outcomes.
Across the district, anti-social behaviour dropped by 31.4% or 673 incidents in the 12 months to 31 July 2023. And in Maldon, there was a 43.4% decrease, or 213 incidents, during the same period.
Acknowledging there is more to be done, Chief Inspector Ballard says being visible and approachable is crucial to tackling anti-social behaviour and crime.
“While out in our communities, my officers conduct licensing checks and weapons sweeps, visit schools and places of worship to strengthen links, engage with people who are vulnerable to becoming involved in criminal activity or being exploited and provide various groups with targeted crime prevention advice.”
Incidents of domestic abuse have been falling across both districts. There was a 12.4% reduction in domestic abuse offences reported in the Chelmsford district in the 12 months to 31 July 2023. During the same period there was an 18.3% drop in the Maldon district.
“My teams provide support to victims and work closely with the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that investigations are thorough but as least intrusive as possible for victims. “And we’re working with Chelmsford City Council on a new Women’s Safety Charter.”
Mental health is an issue, particularly in more isolated communities and, as part of that, we’re involved in a new partnership focusing on men’s mental health, to help men who find it hard to ask for help.
It’s run with community safety partners and suicide prevention charities, including Andy’sManClub.
Chief Inspector Ballard says:
“We do all this to help keep people safe and protect the vulnerable from harm. “But we can’t do it without your help. Of course, we use our own data to inform our operational tactics but we also need information from you, to help us to identify problems in our communities and where they occur. “So, if you have any information about crime, criminal activity or anti-social behaviour, please tell us.”