Youth Council launch Internet Safety CD ROM

Written on . Posted in Community, Crime and safety, Residents, Young people, Your community, Your home

Promoting ways in which to use the internet safely is a top priority for the Epping Forest Youth Council.

Following their peer conference event earlier this year, Youth Councillors pledged to raise awareness of issues such as cyber bullying and internet safety, and to publicise helpful advice or resources on the subject to local young people and their families.

Youth Councillor Jekin Patel explained, “The Epping Forest Communities Safety Partnership made us aware of an excellent CD ROM that offers clear, easy advice to parents and young people about how to use the internet safely. Through the Partnership, we managed to secure 500 free copies of the CD ROM which we feel would be of particular benefit to parents with children in Years 5 and 6, although there are good sections on it for young people themselves too.”

Epping Forest Youth Council launch the Know IT All Internet Safety CD ROM

The `Know IT All` CD ROM is a unique interactive guide produced by Childnet International and includes a guide demonstrating how to report any concerns online, along with interactive quizzes and activities.

The Youth Council will be arranging to distribute the CD ROMs via local primary schools in the Epping Forest District. Extra copies are also available on a first come, first served basis.

Council Gets Tough On Low Level Crime

Written on . Posted in Crime and safety, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your home

Small-scale crime and anti-social behaviour will be targeted in a much faster, more visible and effective manner with the introduction of fixed penalty notices (FPN).  From December, Environment and Neighbourhood Officers employed by Epping Forest District Council will begin to offer offenders the opportunity to pay a fixed penalty within 14 days of being issued with a notice, as an alternative to going to court.

Among the offences for which a FPN will be issued are littering, graffiti, fly-posting, noise nuisance, abandoned vehicles and dog fouling.  For some offences, anyone issued with a notice will get a discount if they pay within 10 days.

The new notices will not come into effect just yet.  Up to December, if the offence is serious Environment and Neighbourhood Officers will continue to pursue cases through the court, however, in other cases they will issue a warning.  When the new FPNs become available the Environment & Neighbourhood Officers will start to target some of the offences for which FPNs can be issued, that have previously not been a priority, with littering, dog fouling and fly-posting being on top of the list of targets.

Perpetrators who are offered an opportunity to avoid court action for a relevant offence by paying a FPN will still have the right to elect to go to court for their case to be heard if they feel they have been treated unjustly.

However, anyone found guilty in court will receive a criminal record whereas payment of the fixed penalty notice will represent a complete discharge of the offence with no criminal record and they will avoid any potential additional legal costs if they were to be found guilty in court.

  Epping Forest District Council Environment and Neighbourhood Officers

Councillor Mary Sartin, Environment Portfolio Holder said: The notices are designed to deal with the low grade anti-social behaviour that takes up a disproportionate amount of time and money in prosecuting through the courts compared with the fines imposed.  The new system will be much quicker and more effective.  The use of FPNs for these offences will provide the Environment and Neighbourhood Officers with an extra tool and impetus to deal with a number of offences that have not been a priority in the past.

“Historically a number of offences for which a FPN can be issued have been under-enforced but we all know that we should not litter, let our dogs defecate without clearing up or graffiti on buildings.  Previously warnings may have been issued.  We will be using the FPN process from December as a means of issuing formal warnings with a monetary penalty to avoid court proceedings and a criminal conviction.  These are all offences that can easily be avoided but can cause real problems throughout the district and additional costs to residents to rectify.

“Hopefully the minority of people who make a habit of such behaviour to the great frustration of the law-abiding majority, will soon get the message and clean up their act.

Epping Forest District Council will be publishing full details before the new arrangements go live in December.  Fixed Penalties will be issued by the Council`s uniformed Environment and Neighbourhood Officers.  The Council and Police will still have the ability to take action through the courts if necessary, for example where an alleged offender has a long track record of similar actions.  Officers will never ask for cash or payment in person and will only issue a FPN on return to the office when the details of the offender have been verified.  Notices of intention to prosecute will be issued on site with the presumption that a FPN will be issued or prosecution proceedings instigated.

    The full list of penalties for offences is as follows (discount level in brackets):

  • Litter – £75 / (£50)
  • Abandoned vehicle – £200 / (£120)
  • Nuisance parking – £100 / (£60)
  • Dog fouling – £50 / (No discount)
  • Graffiti & flyposting – £75 / (£50)
  • Street litter control – £100 / (£60)
  • Unauthorised leaflet distribution – £75 / (£50)
  • Failure to produce waste transfer notice – £300 / (£180)
  • Failure to produce waste carriers papers – £300 / (No discount)
  • Waste receptacles – £100 / (£60)
  • Noise – £100 / (£60)
  • Failure to nominate keyholder in designated alarm areas – £75 / (£50)

Police Bring Back ‘Unoccupied House’ Cards

Written on . Posted in Crime and safety, Residents, Your community, Your home

Are you going on holiday? Are you worried about the thought of leaving your home and possessions unoccupied? Police in Epping Forest have reintroduced a popular scheme to help protect residents’ homes while they are away on holiday. The service is in partnership with Epping Forest Safer Communities who are supporting the police community support officers (PCSOs).

Some older residents may recall a service the police used to offer whereby householders who were going on holiday could call in at their local police stations where they could fill in an ‘Unoccupied House’ card. These cards showed the dates the house was empty and gave contact details of the owner and details of a ‘Good Neighbour’ who could be called on if anything untoward occurred while the owner was away. The cards were passed on to the local officer who regularly visited these houses while they were unoccupied to make sure all was well.

Local residents in the Epping Forest district are now able to call at their local police station (Loughton, Waltham Abbey, Epping or Ongar) before they go away to fill in a ‘Unoccupied House’ card. These cards will be placed in a folder at that police station. Every PCSO, prior to commencing their foot patrols, will check the folder on a regular basis to find out what houses on their beat are unoccupied. During their shift and subject to other work, they will visit as many of these premises as possible to make sure they are secure. If they find anything suspicious or untoward they will then contact the nominated good neighbour or, in more serious circumstances, the owner themselves.

Epping Forest district commander Chief Inspector Alan Ray said: “We are reintroducing this service as an additional initiative to help to protect people’s homes while they are away from them. In the past the ‘Unoccupied House’ scheme has proved effective in reassuring residents that the local police are doing all they can to watch out for their homes while they are on holiday. Everybody has a duty to make sure their house is secure as possible. This initiative is being implemented in support of the effort made by local residents to protect their homes.”

Epping Forest District Council safer communities manager Caroline Wiggins said: “We are delighted to support the re-introduction of this simple but effective scheme. The council is working very hard with Essex Police and all our partners to reduce house burglary throughout the district and this initiative meets that objective fully.”

We would strongly urge any resident who is going on holiday to take the time to call in to their local police station to complete a card.

For further information please contact Epping Forest district crime reduction officer, Tony Ellis on 01279 621888 or by email to tony.ellis@essex.pnn.police.uk

Cabinet Spotlight on Child Protection

Written on . Posted in Community, Crime and safety, Leader, Meetings, Residents, Young people, Your community, Your council

The Cabinet meeting that took place on 8 March 2010 saw child protection proposals come under the spotlight as well as discussion on recycling and health.

Watch the webcastView the webcast of the Cabinet Meeting 8 March 2010

District Council seeks reassurance on Child Protection

Councillor Brian Rolfe, Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder introduced Mr Roger Bullen of Essex County Council to present a report on the Essex Children`s Trust Memorandum of Agreement.

Councillor Mitch Cohen questioned Mr Bullen closely on the purposes of the Memorandum. He explored the levels of independence Epping Forest District Council would retain to control its own policies and procedures in relation to children`s services.
Mr Bullen sought to reassure Councillors that the Memorandum would underpin the statutory obligations of the Essex Children`s Trust, rather than form an overarching influence.

Councillor Lesley Wagland, the Council`s elected representative on the West Essex Children`s Trust Board also expressed concerns. She drew comparison with Epping Forest District Council`s own policies and procedures particularly in relation to Safeguarding, which have been independently identified as `Best Practice`. Councillor Wagland felt that from a legal perspective, the Memorandum of Agreement as written was not specific enough in terms of expectations or requirements, leaving room for different interpretations by the various partners.

Councillor Ann Haigh, Chairman of the previous Children and Young People`s Strategic Partnership (CYPSP) echoed many of Councillor Wagland`s concerns and emphasised the need to place the safeguarding of children first. Councillor Haigh also drew attention to the needs of smaller areas within the context of the overall requirements of West Essex. Councillor Haigh felt the Memorandum was premature and supported Councillor Wagland`s call not to support the document as currently worded.

Councillor Chris Whitbread suggested the document should not be signed at this time. Rather he felt that the good practice identified by independent audit at Epping Forest District Council should be examined more closely by Overview and Scrutiny to see how it might be taken forward. In the meantime, the District Council would assure Essex County Council that it would meet its legislative requirements and continue to work in partnership, while seeking assurances from Essex County Council towards enhancements of children`s services across the County.

Free recycling for schools, halls and places of worship

Free recycling services are to be extended to schools, village halls and religious services at places of worship. Epping Forest District Council`s Cabinet agreed to support the extension of free recycling across the district, mirroring similar services already available on household recycling collections from residents. Councillor Mary Sartin, Environment Portfolio Holder recommended the report to Cabinet.

Commercial businesses continue to be liable for charges for the collection of `trade waste`.

Health Service Consultation

Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens reported to members on the latest North East London health service consultation. He outlined a number of concerns expressed at Overview and Scrutiny Committee including funding and mental health services. Members were also unhappy at the uneven spread of consultation across the southern area of the district.

Watch the webcast

View the Overview and Scrutiny presentation and debate

New Guidelines for Shooters

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Countryside and wildlife, Crime and safety, Local business, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Your community, Your environment

Trespassers firearms and the law posterEpping Forest District Council`s Safer Communities Officer Paul Gardener and Epping Forest Police District Crime Reduction Officer Tony Ellis have been working together to improve policing in rural areas. This is as a result of the National Farmers` Union County Chairperson expressing concerns to the Chief Constable regarding policing priorities towards rural crime.

One action as a result of those concerns was for an email family to be established to exchange information between members about current crime trends and suspicious persons. This now 90-strong group has gone on to form a Neighbourhood Action Panel (NAP) to discuss and resolve rural crime issues – the Prime Minister mentioned the initiative in a recent speech as good practice.

At one of the NAP meetings, a farmer drew attention to a current trend that has become a national debate in some of the shooting magazines. People who are legitimately shooting on land have been approached by trespassers on that land. When asked to leave, the trespasser has reported to the Police that they were threatened by a man with a gun, meaning, in some cases, that the shooter has been arrested and his weapons confiscated solely on the word of the trespasser.

The Police and the Safer Communities Team, in consultation with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and Mick Fidgeon the Head of Essex Police Firearms Licensing Department produced guidelines for shooters which, if followed, would protect them from false allegations. The guidelines will be circulated to every Police Firearms Department in Britain recommending that they be adopted nationally. They will also be taken to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) with the suggestion that ACPO and BASC work together to expand them. Epping Forest Safer Communities Partnership has supported the initiative by funding the production of leaflets and posters, which will be distributed to shooters through shooting schools, firearms dealers, retail farming outlets and shooting syndicates.

Tony Ellis Crime Reduction, Mike Aldiss Essex Shooting School, Paul Gardener Safer Communities

Epping Forest Police Inspector Craig Carrington said: We were asked by the members of the NAP to come up with a plan of action, which would help protect legitimate shooters from falling victim to mischievous allegations. Paul and Tony have worked hard on this initiative and the result is a document which contributes nationally to resolving the problem. This has been a Partnership project with a number of other agencies contributing towards the final product and shows the value of working together with the community to resolve problems.

Caroline Wiggins Epping Forest District Council Community Safety Manager said: “The Farmers` NAP has highlighted a very real concern with the potential to have serious consequences and I am pleased the Safer Communities Partnership has been able to support this worthwhile initiative.”

Taking a Stand Against Domestic Violence

Written on . Posted in Community, Crime and safety, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your home

With the festive season fast approaching, not everybody’s Christmas is festive. For victims of domestic abuse it can be stressful, frightening and even abusive.

Local officers and agencies were out-and-about staffing stalls during Domestic Violence Awareness Week, 23 to 27 November 2009 to remind people that help is available. Various agencies such as police, Womens Aid and Essex Probation Service offered free, confidential advice and support at stands across the Epping Forest, Harlow and Brentwood areas.

Beth Knight from VAEF and PCSO Shelley Cole on a stall at Epping

Picture caption – Beth Knight from VAEF and PCSO Shelley Cole on a stall at Epping (picture used with kind permission from Essex Police).

Domestic Abuse Liaision officer, Sgt Shirley Cole said: “Raised tensions leading to violence and abuse can occur within families spending long periods of time in close proximity during this time of year, in particular over the festive period. Essex Police will take positive action against all offenders. We will be working over this period and will arrest and remove anyone committing any offences. We will also be there to provide support for families and any victims of abuse.

Domestic abuse is a crime more common than people realise and even if you are not experiencing it yourself, the chances are, someone you know is.

Domestic violence is any threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are or have been in a relationship, or between family members. It can affect anybody, regardless of their gender or sexuality. The violence can be psychological, physical, sexual or emotional.

If you, or someone you know is experiencing any abuse, contact the Domestic Abuse and Hate Crime Unit on 01279 625493 or Harlow police station on 0300 333 4444.

Victim support helpline: 0845 4565 995 between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday.

Safer Communities Conference

Written on . Posted in Community, Crime and safety, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your home

Anti-social behaviour was voted the top priority by residents at the Safer Communities Conference held at Waltham Abbey in November. Road safety and drugs came second and third as people`s concerns.Safer Communities Conference 2009

The panelThe District`s top police officer Divisional Commander Alan Ray was one of a panel of experts and councillors to field residents questions at a special `question time` filmed for webcast on Epping Forest District Council`s website. Hosted by BBC Essex presenter Dave Monk, the panel answered questions from residents across the district.

In an audience dominated by young people, the panel was asked why the media often portrays them in such a bad light. Statistically, Epping Forest District has low levels of crime and anti-social behaviour compared against the national picture.

Alison Cowie of NHS West Essex discussed the impact of drug and alcohol abuse on health services. John Gilbert from Epping Forest District Council and County Councillor Anthony Jackson of the Essex Police Authority discussed road safety -another issue often associated with young people but actually more often a problem with older drivers.

Wells Security Officer with a drug sniffer dogEarlier in the day, Waltham Abbey Town Hall hosted a range of displays. Among those taking part were Lee Valley Regional Park and the Olympic Delivery Authority who showed off a scale model of the new White Water Canoe facilities being built just outside Waltham Abbey.

Essex Police set up a knife detector arch. A Team from Wells Security gave demonstrations with their drug sniffer dogs, Willow and Beamish. Children from Upshire Primary School, Holy Cross Infants School, Leverton Junior School and Hill House Church of England School with winning entries in the Fire Engine colouring competition received awards from Epping Forest District Council Chairman, Councillor Penny Smith.

First prize went to Adam Freeman of Upshire Primary School who won a day at Waltham Abbey Fire Station for his whole class.

Essex County Council Trading Standards, Essex Fire and Rescue, the Essex Young People`s Drug and Alcohol Services, Waltham Abbey Town Council and many other organisations mounted displays.

Younger children were entertain with puppet shows while their parents learned more about the service available in the District, discuss issues and pick up information leaflets and guides.

For very young children, the children`s centre provided a dressing up zone for the emergency services and an opportunity to leave with a personalised calendar.

Adam Freeman receiving his prize from Penny SmithColouring Competition

4 Primary Schools in Waltham Abbey participated in a colouring competition.

Children were asked to colour in the fire engine and complete the picture.

Each school had one highly commended pupil. The winners were as follows:

1st: Adam Freeman of Upshire Primary School

2nd: Jason Baratta of Holy Cross Infants Primary School

3rd: Molly Blackman of Holy Cross Infants Primary School

High commended were Ruby Cairns of Upshire Primary School, Nelli Shafrane Bullen of Holy Cross Infants Primary School, Yasmin Bramble of Leverton Junior School and James Fitzpatrick of Hill House C.E School.

Safety Tests Uncover Faulty Blankets

Written on . Posted in Community, Crime and safety, Older people, Residents, Your community, Your home

The free electric blanket testing service provided by Epping Forest District Council and Essex County Council has been hailed as a success and worthwhile service. On 20 October 2009 residents were invited to bring their electric blankets along to Loughton library to be tested.

Eleven blankets were tested on the day, two of which failed. A faulty electric blanket can be the cause of a house fire and having it tested is a quick and easy way for people to ensure they are safe.

This free service is organised by Epping Forest District Council`s Safer Communities Team in partnership with Essex County Council`s Trading Standards. It takes place every year and always proves to be a beneficial service to local residents.

Also at Loughton Library on the day were staff from Voluntary Action Epping Forest (VAEF), C.A.R.E. – Caring and Repairing in Epping Forest – the Council`s Sports Development Team and Essex Police. They provided support and advice to people on how to keep themselves safe and promote community wellbeing.

Residents Offered Free Security Advice

Written on . Posted in Crime and safety, Residents, Your home

An exciting new initiative offering free security advice has been launched by the Epping Forest District Safer Communities Partnership.

Residents considering making improvements to their security will be able to request a free survey from experienced officers by contacting the Councils Safer Communities Team.

The free independent security advice is being offered to all householders in the district by Essex Police together with Epping Forest District Council.

Contact Details

Community Safety and Transport Portfolio holder Syd Stavrou said: This is a practical initiative designed to help residents with their security. The advice is free and impartial from two officers who have over 60 years of policing experience between them. We hope that by introducing this as a service we will prevent residents falling victim to crime.

Chief Inspector Alan Ray District Police Commander for Epping Forest District said: This is a very good partnership initiative, fittingly launched during Not in my Neighbourhood week. These officers have been carrying out joint security surveys for some time when crimes have occurred and they have proved very reassuring with householders. This initiative will extend this service to a wider group of residents.

Meet the Team

Tony Ellis

Tony Ellis, Essex Police Crime Reduction OfficerEssex Police Crime Reduction Officer

Tony joined Essex Police in 1966 where he worked as an operational officer in Thurrock until being promoted to Sergeant and moving to Ongar in 1977.

Tony has spent most of his 30 years service stationed in the Epping Forest District he has a very good local knowledge of the area. He became a Crime Reduction Officer with Essex Police in 1998 and has worked in that role ever since.

Paul Gardener

Paul Gardener, Epping Forest District Council Safer Communities OfficerEpping Forest District Council Safer Communities Officer

Paul joined Essex Police in 1976 and was posted to Epping in 1978 after working at Basildon. He worked most of his career in the Epping Forest District.

Paul has been involved in local community policing and was trained at the Home Office Crime Prevention Centre. He served on a number of specialist departments before retiring from Essex Police in 2006 and joining the Epping Forest District Council Safer Communities Team.

Record Recycling and Fire Safety Discussed at Council

Written on . Posted in Crime and safety, Democracy, Meetings, Recycling and waste, Your council, Your home

Increased recycling, council housing fire safety in communal areas, accord to support local businesses and cutting carbon emissions were all on the agenda at the meeting of Full Council on 3 November 2009.

Record Recycling

Councillor Diana Collins, Leader of Epping Forest District Council, presented a short summary of the latest increase in recycling. Figures for the first three weeks of the new domestic recycling services have exceeded expectations with residents boosting monthly levels to around 60 per cent. Should this trend continue, recycling levels for the year could reach 47 per cent with subsequent years potentially reaching 50 per cent.

Equally encouraging has been the 28 per cent reduction in the amount of rubbish sent to landfill. In the written report to Council, Environment Portfolio Holder Councillor Mary Sartin thanked residents for embracing the new recycling services so wholeheartedly.

Fire Precautions – Communal Areas of Council Flats

A petition by tenants of Torrington Drive, Loughton is to be considered by Members of the Housing Scrutiny Panel. Councillor David Stallan, Housing Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council, told the meeting of Full Council on 3 November that he would decide what response to make after receiving the Panel`s views.

Torrington Drive tenants submitted the petition in response to letters issued by the Council in relation to Health and Safety in communal areas of flats. The Council has asked tenants to ensure they do not leave personal items in communal areas which could obstruct their escape in an emergency. Although the District Council carries out regular routine inspections, the latest request comes soon after a Ministerial report into the Camberwell fire in London earlier this year in which six tenants died.

Councillor Stallan said: The health and safety of our tenants is our top priority. None of us would do anything to compromise the safety of our tenants. However, I have received feedback from several Councillors and tenants who want us to look at the policy in detail and therefore informed the Council of my intention to ask the Housing Panel to look at the issue. The Panel should be able to report back to me with recommendations in the next month or two. In the meantime, we have an obligation to ensure we do all we can to keep escape routes clear and will continue to take reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of our tenants.

Small Business Accord

The Chairman of the Essex Federation of Small Businesses has signed an accord with Epping Forest District Council to support local commerce. Council Chairman Councillor Penny Smith and Business Champion Councillor Chris Whitbread signed the accord on behalf of the Council.

Councillors then went on to support motions asking the Government to review its actions in raising the National Non-Domestic Business Rate locally. They called upon the Government to reduce the multiplier to the greatest possible extent and at least 20 per cent, increase transitional relief so that no business sees its bill increase by more than 2.5 per cent between the current and the new financial years and doubling the limit that restricts entitlement to small business rate relief.

Councillors also supported the case of Buckhurst Hill businesses which had been particularly affected by the latest business rate increases. Members voted to invite the District Valuation Officer to explain his actions to Overview and Scrutiny.

10:10 – Cutting the Council`s Carbon Emissions

Councillors agreed steps to cut carbon emissions by 10 per cent by 2010. The Council supported the 10:10 campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to encourage other individuals, businesses and organisations to do likewise.