Matthew held a packed meeting of Mill Hill residents on Wednesday evening to discuss their concerns about recent incidents of burglary and violent crime. In the last few weeks local people have experienced the terrible murder of Vijay Patel at Rota Express in The Broadway, a spate of robberies, house burglaries and violent acts. Barnet’s Borough Commander Chief Superintendent Simon Rose was in attendance to answer questions from people who live in the area.
On the same day that Matthew voted in Parliament on the Police Grant (England and Wales) motion which awarded the Metropolitan Police Service an additional £42.9 million over the previous financial year, he told the meeting that the Mayor of London held £240 million in “usable resource reserves at March 2017” and that he had removed £38 million from police recruitment in the capital. That made maintaining staffing levels impossible and led directly to the Met Police being downgraded on efficiency in Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services annual Peel assessment.
Audience members gave anecdotal evidence of their calls to the 101 crime reporting number going unanswered, expressed concern about the young age of some of the perpetrators of crime, voiced their frustration about the ability of the police to make people feel safer and demanded to see more police patrols following the recent spike in crime. These assertions repeated almost verbatim the criticism made in the 2018 Peel report https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/peel-assessments/peel-2017/metropolitan/ :
The Metropolitan Police Service requires improvement in how well it understands current and likely future demand. It undertakes analysis to assess the demands for its services, including work to identify demands that are less likely to be reported and to better understand internal processes that create unnecessary work. An increase in 999 calls and staffing difficulties in the Metropolitan communications command have contributed to a reduction in call-handling performance, resulting in too many calls to the non-emergency 101 number going unanswered. This means that some people are not receiving the service that they need from the police.
Members of the audience put forward several suggestions for addressing the situation including a walkie talkie scheme between traders, WhatsApp initiatives, promotion of Neighbourhood Watch, education for young people and paid private security, which one road had undertaken with great success until the security stopped.
Matthew said: “Just like many public services, the Metropolitan Police could always use more money but decisions have been made that have weakened the service. Knife crime is up, burglary remains a problem and the decision by the Mayor to close 131 Safer Neighbourhood bases raises the question of how and where people will have face-to-face contact with officers. The Mayor is failing Mill Hill on crime and he cannot blame his decisions on funding. As I promised the meeting, I will be writing to the Mayor to express my concerns on this matter.
"In the meantime, residents' ideas and initiatives were very welcome and I am already in contact with Mill Hill Neighbourhood Forum regarding taking forward some of these ideas."
Photograph courtesy of Doros Partasides ©