The cover of this week’s Islington Tribune featured a story that highlights a serious flaw in our Safer Neighbourhoods Police Team’s operation. It focuses on some structual issues that have underminded the work of the Team members now out on our streets. If you haven’t read it, I’ve attached a copy of the article which you can download: Download islington_trib__1_june_07.pdf. The matter was immediately brought to the attention of our local Councillor Paul Convery. Paul had already seen it and was very concerned. He’s asked me to share his communication to the other members of the Safer Neighbourhood Panel which he Chairs, and to as many other local residents as possible for their comments as well. His email is as follows:
Could I ask for some reactions please to the events of last week? These have been dramatically highlighted on the front page of both the Islington Gazette and Tribune (See attached from the Tribune). Both papers highlight the problem that our neighbourhood is not effectively policed on a full-time basis and the last bank holiday weekend was a dramatic illustration of this.
Anger amongst local traders and residents has reached boiling point following incidents in the last 10 days involving vandalism and aggressive behaviour all around the neighbourhood – and especially on the Bemerton Estate. Gloria Johnson is one of our panel members and she has highlighted the fact that, when the Safer Neighbourhood Team is not rostered, police coverage and response to incidents is plainly unsatisfactory. As the Tribune story emphasises, when the police team are not on duty, we are at the mercy of a centralised response system which does not seem to recognise that anti-social behaviour is a priority. At the very least, this episode underlines the point we have repeatedly made that this area requires more police officers who can be rostered in a pattern that ensures that holidays and weekends are covered and we have more visible policing for longer hours of each day.
You will see from the attached article the astonishing statement by Inspector Jane Johnson (responsible for Safer Neighbourhood policing in the Borough) that "we have no plans to apply for additional funding to increase weekend cover". Why not, I ask? For the last 18 months, the Caledonian Ward Safer Neighbourhood Panel has been asking for additional funding to provide more coverage, so I am staggered that nothing seems to have come of this.
We need a seriously concerted campaign now to demand higher levels of policing. I observe (as neutrally as I can) that the Council and Met Police have offered to jointly fund 1 extra PCSO per ward "to concentrate on youth issues" which will be implemented sometime in the next year or so. I consider this to be an inadequate scale of response and a pretty pointless gesture too – as every single neighbourhood team in Islington is pretty well focussed 100% on youth-related problems.
I think we need to really up the stakes here. I have copied-in our GLA Assembly member Jennette Arnold who is a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority because I think we need suppotr at a rather higher political level if we are to break through the dead-hand bureacracy of the Met Police. Put simply, I think we need to be saying to Mayor Livingstone that neighbourhood policing is excellent and it needs to become the dominant model for 24 hour policing of the Borough. That may require less of some of some other type of policing and, personally, I can think of a few examples.
Stephan Schulte has contacted me and suggested that we insist that Inspector Jane Johnson attends our next Panel meeting on June 21st. This is a very good suggestion – I would like her to explain how she thinks a properly responsive neighbourhood level police service can get a grip on the kind of criminal behaviour that is menacing our neighbourhood.
I would ask you all to post your comments on this Bulletin Board, so Paul can use them to support our case for more policing. Please raise your voices on this matter.