NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH REPORT OCTOBER 2012
Despite my own (and others’) predictions of an increase in crime as we lost almost all our local police officers to the Olympics, there has been no surge – a great relief in general but of course not to those who have nevertheless been victims. There have been reports of an increase in anti-social behaviour by young people, and street robberies around Stockwell Tube have been a recurring danger. There has been a worrying increase in burglaries in the Vassall Ward, at a time when the Vassall Sergeant (a highly effective criminal-catching-copper) was away on Olympics duties. During the Olympics period (end June – end September) there were no routine street patrols in our area.
Regrettably the lack of police officers has meant that we have had no meeting of our Safer Neighbourhoods Panels, so very little real information. As a result I had a meeting with senior Lambeth police officers in mid-September to raise these concerns, and to enquire about the planned re-organisation of local policing across London. The situation continues to be hand-to-mouth: local officers are constantly removed to crew Response vehicles (answering 999 calls), in charge of prisoner Custody at police stations, or sent out of the Borough – I was told that things were much better as the number ‘abstracted’ each day for duties outside Lambeth had dropped from 160 to 60. One good report was that the mobile police teams brought in from the Shires during the Olympics to provide local support had been very effective in dealing with crime hot spots.
Overall crime in Lambeth from April to the beginning of September averaged 92 offences per day, 6% down on last year. Robberies and burglaries were down between 17-18% but these comparisons are distorted by the many crimes committed during the August 2011 disorders. The sad fact remains that fewer than 17% of crimes are solved (with the criminal brought to justice in some way), with fewer than 11% in the case of street robberies and 16% of burglaries.
But our residents made their own contribution to crime fighting: a highlight has been the brave conduct of two young residents who realised there were burglars in their family home. They hid and called the police, who arrived quickly and arrested two suspects while they were still in the house.
I have reported previously on plans for reorganising local policing. They are still in gestation, and even our own senior officers don’t know what is in prospect. We may hear more in the New Year, but nothing will be implemented until April 2013. We expect that the new plan for London will be based on the lead programme that was instituted in Lambeth last year, with large Local Police Teams covering a wider area than the Safer Neighbourhoods Teams we have had for 6 years or so. They will also have many more roles, including detection, so we shall have less local contact but better coverage.
Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator