Essex Police chief warns crime could rise as 'PCs can't afford to be cops'

Ben-Julian Harrington, chief constable of Essex Police
Credit: Essex Police
Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington QPM Credit: ITV Anglia

Crime will rise if police pay isn't increased to stop "promising" officers quitting the force, the chief constable of Essex has warned.

Ch Con Ben-Julian Harrington QPM said that low pay for police officers and the rising cost of living is forcing PCs to leave for other jobs.

In recent weeks, Mr Harrington said, Essex Police has seen 'promising' PCs leave - despite prospects for future promotions - to become train drivers, taxi drivers or leave the UK altogether.

He said: "At Essex Police, we don’t just go to home burglaries after they have happened. We catch the burglars and we stop them doing it again.

"We’re delivering justice for all the people whose properties were broken into and peace of mind for everyone who lives in our villages and our cities.

"I know we’ll be able to catch even more criminals if I’m able to keep paying a fair wage to skilled investigators who get great results.

"I’m speaking up because they deserve a fair deal for the work they do – all I ask is that the force is given the money it needs to make that happen."

Shane Smith has been jailed for a series of burglaries. Credit: Essex Police

Mr Harrington was speaking after the sentencing of prolific burglar, Shane Smith, who targeted homes in the Braintree area.

He added that crime rates in Essex are falling, but that he believes that trajectory could be put at risk if staff continue to leave the profession due to the spiralling cost of living.

He said that crime, like the burglaries Shane Smith committed, will go untackled if 'PCs can't afford to be cops'.

Smith, 31, of Gypsy Lane in Little Dunmow appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday, 10 July after pleading guilty to 13 burglary related offences.

He was arrested in March 2023.

Between August 2022 and March 2023, he was responsible for breaking into nine homes, stealing items including bank cards, phones and televisions.

During one burglary, Smith also stole a West Highland Terrier, which has since been reunited with their owner.

At one of the burglaries, Smith had left behind a metal car jack, leaving his DNA which was then connected to the other ongoing investigations.

He was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Detective Chief Inspector Nathan Hutchinson, who oversees investigations in North Essex said: "Shane Smith thought that he was above the law. He thought we wouldn’t catch him. He was wrong.

"This result demonstrates the length that Essex Police will go to, to take people like him off the streets and to protect people and property.

"Burglary is such an intrusive crime which has a detrimental effect on victims. We understand this and we put our communities first in Essex.

"That’s why we did everything we could to get the evidence and stop Smith doing this to anyone else."

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