Epping Forest and Brentwood: New Town Centre Team launched
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A new team has been formed to police the centres of Epping, Loughton, Waltham Abbey and Brentwood.
The Town Centre Team will provide a visible presence along the high streets and surrounding areas and will combat anti-social behaviour, deter crime and work to make sure everyone feels safe as they shop or socialise.
They will also place an emphasis on engaging with local people and acting on their concerns.
The team of 10 PCs is led by Sgt Andrew Rivers.
He said: “By taking ownership of the high streets, we will be able to give the public a better level of service. This will take the pressure off the Community Policing Team, who have huge areas to cover.
“People can expect to see the same officers patrolling, popping into the shops and talking to business owners who may have ongoing issues.
“It may be anti-social behaviour, or the even the perception of anti-social behaviour if there are large groups of teenagers people may find intimidating.”
Sgt Rivers said that so far, the response from the public has been very encouraging.
“I’ve been out on patrol today and I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say how good it is to see police officers on the streets on foot patrol, wearing a custodian (helmet). This will happen more in the areas I’m responsible for.
“You can never underestimate how much good you’re doing by being on foot patrol. We will help to deter pickpockets and shoplifters and, as the team grows, the public will see more of my officers on the beat.”
Sgt Rivers’ team will also deal with issues around alcohol licencing, the night-time economy, and the safety of women and girls, as well as enforcing criminal behaviour orders.
Operation Charlotte has been running at tube and train stations across the two districts. It has seen officers asking women if they feel safe as they return from work or head for a night out and what they think could be done to make them feel safer in any problem areas they have identified.
Officers have also handed out drink spiking detection strips and personal alarms.
Sgt Rivers added that the areas the team cover have their own unique challenges and he wants to encourage people to say hello when they see officers out and about.
He said: “Each of the town centres is different. In Brentwood, there are a lot of licensed premises with a vibrant night-time economy where we’ve been engaging with young people, particularly around combatting VAWG (violence against women and girls).
“Whereas Epping has fewer nightclubs and bars, but it gets busy on market day where we get some great engagement from the older generation.
“A measure of our success will be the feedback we get from the public and it’s very important that people feel they can trust us.
“We want the public to come and have a chat with us. If they’ve got any issues, even if they’re not directly related to the high street, come and tell us.”
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