SENIOR police officers have welcomed ambitious plans to bring in an additional 34 special constables to Southend.

Last week, the Echo reported how Southend Council’s new Conservative leader - Tony Cox - announced a ten-point plan to address criticism aimed at the last administration.

Braintree and Witham Times:

Backing the plans - Neil Pudney

This included the news the council will fund an additional two special constables for each ward of the borough - 34 in total - in a bid to address public concern over community safety in the town.

But the plan may never come to fruition as he is due to face a vote of no confidence on June 3 which, with Lib Dem and independents’ backing, could see Labour leader Ian Gilbert become leader.

Nevertheless, Neil Pudney, Essex Police’s district commander for Southend, has said the extra resources would contribute to the imminent influx of additional officers.

He said: “The announcement regarding 34 additional Special Constables is really welcomed. Essex has the second largest Special Constabulary in the country and a growing number of people joining the Active Citizen Scheme so for me this is brilliant news.

“Police numbers are increasing – with over 3,000 officers now and this will increase again over the next ten months to 3,215 officers.

“We have recently welcomed the new council Community Safety Team into our community safety hub.

“This team consists of a community safety team leader and six officers who have designated powers and are working alongside the community policing team to resolve issues affecting the local community.

“Police resources growing, Special Constabulary resources growing, Active Citizens [is] growing and community safety resources [are] growing – this is all positive news for Southend and means we are able to be even more proactive in our approach and continue to keep our visibility high in all areas of the district.”

Senior Southend officer Insp Ian Hughes also welcomed the news.

Insp Hughes, who oversees the Community Policing Team, said: “Any additional resources will certainly benefit the borough by increasing visibility.

“Extra resources is one of many ways which Southend Police is working with partners to address local and national challenges.

“We welcome the support from any organisation who are prepared to encourage their staff to become special constables or active citizens and contribute to reducing crime in our borough.”