Residents, business owners and charity representatives joined police, NHS and council staff at Moot House in The Stow for the launch of an initiative to cut crime and regenerate the area.

Clear, Hold, Build is a Home Office-backed scheme that brings together public services to tackle offending and address underlying issues affecting the local community.

The aim is to produce sustained, long-term change in places that have been blighted by serious and organised crime by pursuing offenders, breaking up and dispersing gangs, and creating strong, resilient neighbourhoods.

Attendees were welcomed to the event by Assistant Chief Constable Andy Mariner and the leader of Harlow Council, councillor Dan Swords, and then listened to presentations from speakers including Harlow District Commander Chief Inspector Paul Austin who outlined why The Stow had been chosen and what he hoped the project would achieve.

Epping Forest Guardian: Councillor Dan Swords, leader of Harlow Council, opens the eventCouncillor Dan Swords, leader of Harlow Council, opens the event (Image: Essex Police)
This was followed by a constructive, open discussion about what people believe the biggest challenges in The Stow are.

The event also saw the unveiling of the project’s logo, which was created by Sophia, a year six student at Cooks Spinney Primary Academy. Her colourful design and ‘Safe to go Stow’ slogan won a competition at her school and will now feature on all Clear, Hold, Build information.

Speaking after the event, Harlow District Commander Chief Inspector Paul Austin said: “We want the Stow to be a place people are proud of and feel safe in. Currently, residents have told us this is not always the case. This project will help to change that.

“People can expect to see my officers out of patrol, driving down anti-social behaviour, arresting those responsible for violence and drug offences, and making sure they don’t come back.

“By working together with our partners from across the public services, we will show residents that this is an area we care about and is worth investing in.

“There is a strong community spirit here and it’s clear by the views expressed today, there’s a real passion for area. By joining forces, we can help to make the positive impact that the law-abiding people who live here deserve.”

Epping Forest Guardian: Competition winner Sophie displays her design alongside Inspector Leanne Archer of Harlow Community Policing TeamCompetition winner Sophie displays her design alongside Inspector Leanne Archer of Harlow Community Policing Team (Image: Essex Police)
Councillor Dan Swords, Leader of Harlow Council, added: “Two of the council’s six missions are to protect our communities and renew our neighbourhoods. Clear, Hold, Build will deliver on both of these missions and address long-term serious crime, anti-social behaviour and the fact too many residents and businesses in The Stow feel left behind.

“This is a brand-new programme which has been extraordinarily successful in other parts of the country. Working together with the police, a whole host of organisations and most importantly local people, we will crack down on criminal gangs, drive out anti-social behaviour and resolve the issues that this community have faced for far too long.

“As well as seeing more police patrols residents will be seeing more of our own Community Safety Officers out and about in the area to provide extra reassurance to make sure the problems the area faces don’t resurface.

"And as soon as we have dealt with the immediately pressing challenges to protect our community, we can renew this neighbourhood and ensure that once again residents and businesses feel proud of The Stow as a safe place to live, work, visit and shop.

“Our message to residents is clear: we know that we have let you down and we will change that. We will end this cycle of violence and crime, protect our community and renew your neighbourhood.”