CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Senior officer: Cutting community policing is ‘backward step’

Police high command take questions from the public

01 November, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

Superintendent David Moorhead 

A SENIOR police officer responsible for upping the numbers in local policing said previous reductions to these teams were a “backward step”.

Superintendent David Moorhead told residents: “We lost a lot of numbers of police officers so they had to put them into frontline policing so that when people dial 999 that you got a police officer.  Now, what had to give with that was community policing. And I think it’s a backward step.”

He added: “We’ve been here before, and now we’re putting all those community officers back into the communities because they are pivotal to have that engagement with the community. We are getting there. It’s small steps, it will take another year.”

Supt Moorhead said he believes there is a link between a rise in crime and a reduction in community officers, who cover specific areas of each borough.

He was brought into Camden and Islington borough command unit in April to build up the Safer Neighbourhood Teams, as they were “massively under strength” .

The Mayor of London’s office for policing and crime estimated last year that the Met had lost 3,000 police officers and another 3,000 Police Community Support Officers since 2010.

The meeting at Queen’s Crescent Community Centre was chaired by borough commander Chief Supt Raj Kohli with the aim of allowing residents to quiz police. It took place before the December 12 general election was called.

Similar soul-searching meetings were held in the wake of the killing of Calvin Bungisa in April and after a fatal double stabbing last year.

Officers agreed to speak to residents who stood up at the meeting and said they had reported crime but got had no follow-up from police.

Inspector Richard Berns told the meeting that for the first time the Met are recruiting more officers than they are losing. He added: “On neighbourhoods, we actually have more officers than our official allocation, certainly in PCs.”

However, when asked if residents had seen more police officers as part of an operation targeting gang crime in the borough, only a couple raised their hands.

The Home Office has announced 20,000 extra officers will be funded across the country, of which a couple of hundred are expected to join Camden and Islington.

Chief Supt Kohli, who previously worked in the borough, said: “For me that’s not growth, that’s a return to 2012 when I was here last.”

‘We do not feel safe around here’

YOUNG boys told the meeting at Gospel Oak that they did not feel safe and called for more youth facilities.

Concerns were raised by the audience that again no young people were taking part in the public conversation about youth violence.

During the meeting, PC Leon Coltress managed to locate five teenagers on Queen’s Crescent and they were asked to come in and given a front seat.

They said they wanted more trips like quad biking and football as well as something to do “every single day and not just sitting out on the streets”.

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