‘Wealthy, sharp-elbowed’ residents in Hampstead get better response to crime concerns, councillor claims
Borough commander remains adamant that south of Euston Road is not being neglected
24 July, 2019 — By Richard Osley
It goes northwards: Awale Olad is a Labour councillor in Holborn and Covent Garden
WEALTHY and “sharp-elbowed” residents in the north of the borough get a better response to crime concerns than people living in southern wards, a scrutiny committee chairman has claimed.
Speaking at a council meeting last week, Labour councillor Awale Olad challenged the borough’s top police officer, Chief Superintendent Raj Kohli, over open drug dealing in areas south of the Euston Road.
Cllr Olad warned that people in the area had given up reporting crimes to police, having lost faith that any action would be taken.
He said: “I’m not saying we should take police officers or resources from one part of the borough for another part of the borough. All I’m saying is that when it comes to methodology, when it comes to making decisions in our borough, it often feels that things move northwards.”
He added: “It’s probably, in my neck of the woods you are more likely to walk past drug dealing and drug addicts and feel like ‘oh nothing’s going to get done’ so there’s no point in reporting it. As opposed to someone in Hampstead, who would probably report it.”
Cllr Olad, a councillor in Holborn and Covent Garden and the chair of the Town Hall’s culture and environment scrutiny committee, said “strategic decisions” favoured northern wards because people in those areas were more “persistent”.
“It seems to be that in Hampstead, Highgate, the areas where people are a bit wealthier and are a probably a bit more sharp-elbowed about things, maybe these people are better organised at getting resources and as a result strategic priorities tend to go up north,” he said.
“As a result, when officers look at the statistics they think actually there’s a bigger problem up here.”
He told the chief superintendent: “From experience it does not feel like we get much resources,” adding that he had reported open drug-taking to police sergeants but not seen anything done. “It’s open for everybody to see,” he said.
One New Journal reader sent a film of apparent open drug dealing in Endell Street earlier this week.
Another Labour councillor on the committee, Rishi Madlani, said that his constituents in Bloomsbury had also given up reporting dealing and drug-taking.
“They are giving up hope,” he said, naming Herbrand Street as a particular problem area.
Chief Superintendent Kohli told the meeting that more southern wards were getting a more “enhanced” approach than in the north of the borough, but he could not move officers away from other areas.
He said: “This is the debate that we have to have here because the real challenging part of this borough, for me, is Gospel Oak, where there are deprivation issues, where there is a real challenge with young people with nowhere to go. There are more enhanced wards in the south of the borough.”
The borough commander suggested it may not be an issue the police could solve with arrests,
“There are multiple priorities everywhere,” he told the meeting. “It sounds like the approach there is more than policing it out. There’s the whole thing about broken windows. “If you see some needles kicking around then you are much more likely to shoot up there. If the place is spick-and-span, you are much less likely to do that – so it sounds like a holistic approach to tidying up the place.”