When I ask residents about their local concerns I have noticed that more and more of them are talking about crime.
The statistics confirm an upward trend locally. In Hammersmith and Fulham last year there were 21,692 crimes recorded last year. That compared with 20,881 the year before.
In Ravenscourt Park Ward the figure for 2017 was 1,252 – up from 1,077 in 2016. I don’t want to exaggerate the gloom. There had been a falling trend for many years. (In 2011 there were 1,354 crimes in the Ward.)
Also I suspect that more people take the trouble to report a crime when it has taken place. (The local team can be emailed on SNTFH-.RavenscourtPark@met.pnn.police.uk). I remember when I first became a councillor 12 years ago victims of a crime would talk to me about waiting ages to get through to the police on the phone – perhaps giving up after half an hour or so concluding there was no point in making the report anyway. These days it is both easier to report a crime and doing so is more widely recognised as worth doing. The Neighbourhood Watches are a fantastic help.
There is a crime map published for each area giving full information about the location and type of each crime that has been recorded. The one for Ravenscourt Park Ward can be found here. When someone who lives in Rivercourt Road mentioned to me that there had been “spate of car crime” on his street I was able to check on the map to confirm this was true. This then strengthened the case for CCTV – which is usually provided by the Council and they have promised me they will provide.
By the way CCTV is not a panacea – although it can sometimes be crucial. Cameras are monitored 27/7 in the control room Hammersmith Town Hall. But there are not enough people to monitor all the cameras at once. So not all culprits are caught live. Going through the recordings afterwards is time consuming. I have suggested that volunteers could be invited to help with this – both with live monitoring and going through the recordings. It is always tempting to demand more and more cameras. But we also need more people to check them.
Often the criminals wear hoodies – that sometimes means their faces don’t get caught on the camera. Sometimes there are a network of cameras so it can be spotted where the criminal escapes to – sometimes there isn’t.
Moped crime is a particular problem across London. The mopeds are stolen and then used as convenient vehicles to undertake further crime. We have the absurd situation that the police are constrained from chasing thieves who are not wearing helmets – for health and safety reasons.
There is quite a lot of traffic legislation that does not give an specific exemptions to the police who are in pursuit of criminals – for instance if police officers are speeding, or going over a red light. It was never thought necessary as it was assumed that the Crown Prosecution Service would exercise common sense…the police no longer have that confidence and so specific legal protections are needed.
Then we have had the reduction in “stop and search”. This was motivated by political correctness. Innocent black teenagers were stopped a disproportionate number of times. Yet it is also innocent black teenagers who have been the greatest victims when the police walk by on the other side.
Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner says:
“We have probably had a 20% increase in knife crime in London in the last year and that is not acceptable to me, so I am encouraging my officers to do stop and search as one of many things that will help to bring this number down.
“I am very much in favour of stop and search. And I’ve said that to my officers and I want them to feel confident to use it. Now we have body-worn video that helps as well in terms of accountability
“In London about one in three stop and searches result in something being found. That shows we are not just doing random work.”
I would hope that with some of these problems being addressed we can see the crime rate falling again.
Why is there this fixation with police patrolling in twos or even threes?
I realise resources are constrained but I would like to see more police officers walking around neighbourhoods on their own, not looking nervous, having the confidence to control the space and project some authority, and talking to people if they get a bit lonely. You automatically at least double the amount of ordinary street policing possible.