Thank you to everyone who attended our follow up meeting with our local police senior leadership team to discuss their progress in addressing anti social behaviour and crime in our area. This is an update on what was discussed at this meeting and the information provided to residents, and an alert for local residents regarding possible further changes to our policing provision in Walthamstow.
The Borough Commander Richard Tucker led the meeting along with Superintendent Paul Clements. He started meeting by acknowledging the progress that has been made with policing in Walthamstow since the previous meeting, and that it had made him realise previously removing the dedicated high street team was a mistake. As a result, since the meeting in May, there is now one Sergeant and six police officers dedicated to the High Street and St James area.
Paul Clements explained that since last meeting, police have made fifty five arrests in the area involving drugs, and executed five warrants for house searches for drugs. They have also seized eight knives and made 170 stop and searches on drug-related grounds. Superintendent Clements reports that of those who have been arrests a significant number have been for those with possession of enough drugs to suggest they are supplying.
Both Superintendent Clements and Commander Tucker discussed the twin challenges they face of addressing the underlying causes of drug led criminality in Walthamstow and the impact of a 40% cut to the Metropolitan police in the next four years. They also explained they were seeking public support for the continued use of targeted stop and search based on intelligence from the public.
Superintendent Clements also discussed recent concerns about increases in crime using corrosive substances such as acid or bleach and mopeds. Superintendent Clements highlighted that attacks involving corrosive substances are still rare in Walthamstow and that the Met Police have a central team looking into increase of the use of such substances. He highlighted that stop and searches now include looking for corrosive substances and that any one carrying a liquid may be asked to consume it. He also said that the police are asking local businesses to exercise their responsibility to question why they are selling such substances to young people.
The Borough Commander pointed out that police are now prioritising tackling the 3,500% increase in use of mopeds to commit crime in London and asking for reports from public to help improve intelligence on who is using these vehicles for such purposes. Residents then asked a range of questions which can be groups into three categories:
Concerns about inappropriate use of stop and search and the importance of involving young people in policing
- As of Monday all police in the borough now have body cameras, police want to listen and learn about how to improve stop and search in way that is targeted
- Police are working with spark2life who are working on gang issues in Walthamstow and ask for patience from community
- Youth Engagement team from the council are working on ‘Detached’ project – joint work between police, young people, ex-gang members and council
- Lighting will be improved in high street area to reduce spaces for criminal activity
Concern over increase in knife crime and young people carrying knives
- The police highlighted that there are twenty two schools officers in borough working with young people. Parents are encouraged to cooperate and search their children if they are concerned.
Concern over drug use and anti social behaviour on housing estates
- Police have identified 150 long term drug users who need intervention and are working with the Council and healthcare services. They are also seeking to ask Housing Associations to address their failure to tackle ASB behaviour
The Borough commander pledged to continue the deployment of resources in the High Street and St James area – but also warned he has to play his part with central London policing requests and cuts and so this will impact on other services the police provide. Residents were encouraged to be part of safer neighbourhood panels and become active in helping to address local challenges and the date of the next High Street Ward Panel was given as Tuesday 12th September.
I will continue to liaise with the police on these issues and update residents on them via my weekly e-newsletter. If you don’t receive this – which includes the dates of Safer Neighbourhood Panels- please do email me and I will add you to that mailing list.
At the end of the meeting, the Borough Commander announced that the police were considering the closure of the Walthamstow police contact point, which would mean residents would need to go to Chingford to report issues to the police. Since the meeting my office has been seeking urgent information about these proposals to share with residents and details of who will make this decision. I will be asking for the help of Walthamstow residents to fight these proposals as soon as I receive this information.