Contract for Epping police team renewed

A team of police officers who were involved in targeting organised crime and drug dealing will remain in Epping until at least 2025.

Epping Forest District Council agreed to renew its contract with Essex Police for the team, who are based out of the council’s civic offices, at a cabinet meeting on Monday April 11.

The team, which will cost the council £180,000 per year, were involved in anti-drugs and anti-gang initiatives like Operation Rose and Operation Hemlock, according to cabinet members.

Councillors hope continuing to use officers who are tasked directly by the local authority will allow it to better control how police are deployed and how they can act.

Housing Services Portfolio Holder Holly Whitbread (Con, Epping Lindsey and Thornwood Common) said the officers had also been involved in cracking down on antisocial behaviour on Epping High street, for example on Halloween in 2019, and had also broken up parties during coronavirus lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

She said: “They’ve done some really great work, particularly around Operation Rose, which members will remember did gain national coverage a couple of years ago, and that was tracking down some gang members in relation to a drugs ring locally, so a really important piece of work there.”

According to Cllr Whitbread, the team consists of two police constables and one sergeant and is tasked by the council on issues that are specific to the district.

Finance, Qualis Client & Economic Development Portfolio Holder John Philip (Con, Theydon Bois) said the money needed for the team had already been made available in the council’s annual budget, which was approved earlier this year.

He said: “Given that it’s there I think it’s as good a way to spend that money as we could possibly come up with and it’s done significant good for the district over the past years.”

According to the report, Operation Rose “took out” a number of gang members selling drugs in the district and Operation Hemlock targeted an organised criminal group involved in high value vehicle thefts.

Now the contract has been renewed, the team will remain operational in the district for a further three years.

Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter