A FORMER Southend police commander has described the sharp increase in violent crime across the borough as “disappointing” and said more must be done from the top.

Mick Thwaites was a police officer for 37 years and rose to the rank of Chief Superintendent and divisional commander of Southend.

Braintree and Witham Times:

Scene - Fabian Kacica was stabbed to death outside the Forum, in Southend

Braintree and Witham Times:

Death - Courtney Valentine-Brown was stabbed to death in Roots Hall Drive

Mr Thwaites said the figures which show a 39 per cent increase in violent crime across Southend show the borough needs more officers.

He said: “My view is that it is extremely disappointing.

“For the last 12 months or so, people have been saying that violent crime is at an unacceptable level and these figures prove it.

“My personal belief is that the latest data is a reflection of the amount of resources they have across the borough - it is not enough.

“Southend took a huge hit when the county lost seven or eight hundred police officers and at the time everyone said it wouldn’t have consequences - well clearly they do.

“If we’re being honest, this is street level crime and if police officers are not out there in sufficient numbers then the only way violent crime is going to go is up.”

Southend is set to get 15 new officers as part of the batch of 150 to be put in place across Essex.

FULL STORY: Violent crime has risen in Southend

The force will be recruiting another 215 in the coming year, with at least 12 allocated to Southend.

These additions, however, are being funded by an increase in the crime commissioner’s council tax precept, rather than new central funding.

But Mr Thwaites believes there are problems from the office of the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst, and the policies in place by the force to tackle knife carriers.

He added: “There has been a dramatic drop in officers and also the use of stop and searches.

“That’s linked to the number of officers but also policy.

“There’s been a reluctance to use it but the reality is that stop and searches are a significant tactic to tackle violent crime.

“I would like to be seeing is what strategy the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner has got to deal with it because it does make people feel uneasy particularly coming into the town centre.

“You need to be sure you’re going to be safe and at the moment, that’s not the case.

“This is not about the cops on the beat. They are trying their hardest to deal with crime across the borough and the vast majority care about Southend.

“But you have to have the resources to respond to the hot spots and do the proactive work but crime prevention is better than crime detection.”

Read Essex Police's response here.