Action needed on moped thefts

I have written elsewhere about the growing epidemic of moped thefts. Part of the problem is that as the culprit is not wearing a helmet the police are under instructions not to pursue them for health and safety reasons. The Mayor of London to give stronger guidance.

Another problem is when the police do catch the thief the sentencing is so lenient. Often the criminals brazenly show off their exploits all over social media – with photos and videos taunting the police on Facebook.

Often the stolen mopeds are then used for other crimes. I had an email this week from one Neighbourhood Watch group in Ravenscourt Park Ward about drug dealers using stolen mopeds.

There is a scheme in Southwark to combat motorbike theft by installing “anchors”.

£500 seems rather a lot for each anchor.

I asked the Council for what we are doing and got the following response from Commissioning And Performance Officer:

Dear Councillor Phibbs,

 Thank you for your recent enquiry relating to the scheme in Southwark to fit ground anchors in residents driveways.

 The scheme in Southwark has clearly been well received and will hopefully have a positive impact on the number of moped thefts in that Borough. Hammersmith and Fulham experiences similar challenges and officers have worked closely with the police to design schemes aimed at tackling the problem. As such, a GPS Tagging Project was introduced in 2016. The unit cost for this scheme is approximately £50 which demonstrates excellent value for money and, due to its lower cost, has enabled 80 mopeds to be tagged. We currently have the resources to fit 80 more. Much of the motorcycle and moped theft in the borough involves vehicles being taken from the street as many residents do not have off-street parking, so we feel that GPS tagging is a more appropriate solution for this borough than the Southwark scheme.

 Residents can have this equipment fitted to their vehicle free of charge and the police are then able to track their vehicles if they are stolen. Residents can apply for the scheme by contacting CSU@lbhf.gov.uk

Hate crime is being defeated in Hammersmith and Fulham

The EU referendum result was most emphatically not a victory for bigotry. On the contrary it was a vote for a positive, democratic future – for the UK to be an outward looking, free trading, self governing nation. But some thought it was a licence for intolerance – some residents from other EU states feared it was, a handful of bigoted yobs hoped it was. The number was very small but highly unpleasant – including the notorious incident of obscene, racist graffiti on the Polish Centre in King Street.

Fortunately although there have been half a dozen incidents thought to be linked to the referendum Hannah Wheeler, Chief Inspector Partnership for the Hammersmith and Fulham Police reports overall here has not been an increase in Hate Crime locally:

“The DWO for the ward Pc Jenny Doe has very close links with the Polish centre and we also have a Polish MSC Sgt who supports them as well. Their security was reviewed last year from a Counter terrorism perspective and their staff were trained as well by Sgt Penman and I have also asked the Crime prevention design Advisor – Dave Hinton to attend and review again. In the latest incident the letter has been submitted for forensic examination and was posted from Sheffield – no reason and probably someone trolling following the recent media exposure of the centre.

Hate crime remains at the levels it was prior to the Referendum vote – we have had roughly 10 per week – of the 39 reported only 6 have a direct reference to the referendum and they were in the immediate days after the vote.

To give you a flavour of what the latest reports are

2 are homophobic – parties know to each other.

3 relate to drunk customers in shops being refused service and saying ‘ go back to your own country’ or words to that affect .

1 last night was an abusive male in the front office at Hammersmith that racially abused a police officer and was arrested.

We have a daily crime digest for the borough of MOPAC crimes and following the referendum I asked that all Hate crime was recorded daily on that digest as well so we are closely monitoring for any increase or change in severity however the latest reported hate crimes are of the same nature to those prior to the referendum.

I hope this allays any fears you may have?  If you are aware of anecdotal reports of ‘talk’ about hate crime then please check whether it has been reported so we can accurately police all our hate crime.”

Neighbourhood Watch schemes provide the ultimate value for money in crime fighting

Metropolitan_PoliceThere are plenty of examples that shows that if the state spends more money on something it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a better service and also that it is possible to find savings without cutting the standard of service.

The Metropolitan Police are no exception to this and big reductions in budget have been absorbed while the amount of front line policing has been maintained.

One way that policing has been enhanced has been through the boost of volunteering. There are more Special Constables. Also there are more Neighbourhood Watch schemes – where the public provide a vast intelligence network on a greater scale that could possible be provided by beat policing.

So it does make sense that liaison with Neighbourhood Watch coordinators – whether by police officers or PCSOs – is maintained.

David Millar, Chairman of the Neighbourhood Watch Borough Association, sent out the following note recently to those involved in fighting crime by coordinating Neighbourhood Watches.

Dear all,

At a number of recent meetings in Hammersmith & Fulham it has been made clear that there is public concern at the reported outcomes of the current funding review of the Police.

The reduction in neighbourhood policing and possible loss of all PCSOs has caused the major concern. A number of lobbying suggestions were made at the meetings.

Well, by chance, I found myself sitting next to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner of the Police in the Metropolis – as it says on his card) on a flight from Edinburgh last Sunday.

As I had him captive for an hour I thought I would put it to good use. We had a fair and frank discussion and it is clear that he is facing an unenviable task on where he will find the savings that will be required of him.

It seemed to me that he was being shielded from the communities view – bearing in mind that there is no consultation – on what people want from their local police. I took the opportunity to relay the general feelings of H&F residents from recent discussions at the Neighbourhood Watch AGM and Safer Neighbourhood Board.

There was a meeting of the Mets Management Board on the 29th September where they were reviewing the options open to them. He was very clear that no decisions will be taken until December.

After a wide ranging discussion he agreed that it would be appropriate to meet representatives of all London Boroughs which I can arrange through the organisation that I represent H&F on – the London Communities Policing Partnership.

At the end of the day the final decision will be his, but I hope that at least we will have the opportunity for our voice to be heard.

I will keep you informed of any developments.

David Millar

Investing in the police estate in Hammersmith and Fulham

Chief Superintendent Gideon Springer, the Borough Commander, has written the following message to councillors about how the police are examining ways in which to make sure their estate in the borough is fit for the 21st century.

As you know the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) are concerned that we should deliver the best possible service to every community in London. We have prioritised having at least one 24 hour police station in every borough and ensuring that there are other contact points and front counters throughout the capital. Not all of these are fit for purpose in the longer term and we have been modernising our estate.

The challenges for all of us in the public sector are, at the same time, becoming more acute. MOPAC and the MPS are, as doubtless you are also, considering how best we can use our estate and our facilities to achieve greater productivity and better service with less financial input.

The MPS and MOPAC objective is to maintain London as the safest global city, ensure that the public see police officers on the street and are able to access police services through the most immediate means possible. Increasingly as for all public services, mobile digital technology and use of the internet means that our officers do not need to be captured within buildings, but can be out on the street.

In Hammersmith & Fulham, as elsewhere in London, we are keen to reduce costs by making our estate use as efficient as possible whilst delivering on all of the commitments that I have set out above. We now have some specific plans. These plans will mean that we are making significant investment in Hammersmith Police Station and changing the focus of Fulham Police Station to make better use of that site, whilst retaining the front counter.

Hammersmith Police Station, in the centre of the Borough, is an important site for us, but its current configuration fails to provide a modern policing facility. We have wasted space and cannot, as it stands, achieve our ambitions to operate in a digitally enabled twenty-first century fashion.

We would therefore like to make major improvements to the existing building to deliver new state-of-the-art facilities including a new 30 cell custody suite – as well as improved and expanded stables that would maintain the popular presence of mounted police in the Hammersmith area. Modernising Hammersmith Police Station, whilst requiring investment up front, will reduce the running costs of the estate and also make more efficient use of space and allow for a more flexible workspace. It will also have the benefit of demonstrating our long term commitment to a substantial physical presence in the Borough.

The new Hammersmith Police Station will be our 24/7 Front Counter as now.

In addition to the investment at Hammersmith Police Station, MOPAC and the MPS are also undertaking to make better use of the Fulham Police Station site. This currently operates at just 35% utilisation meaning that the majority of the site can be released, reducing running costs and releasing significant capital value, whilst still maintaining a Front Counter on the site.

The current intention is that the site will be sold by MOPAC to the Education Funding Agency conditional on the retention of suitable Front Counter provision on site.

The capital receipt from Fulham will be reinvested into new and improved facilities and to support the work that we intend to undertake at Hammersmith, as well as the IT necessary to improve officer performance and frontline policing, delivering a better service to the public.

At a very early meeting between Hammersmith & Fulham Planning Officers and representatives from the MPS Property Services Department in June 2015, our concepts for proposed improvements at Hammersmith Police Station were welcomed including our intention to retain the Grade II Listed façade. The MPS Property Services Department has now arranged a formal pre-application meeting with your planning officers as well as a site visit, and once plans have progressed we will hold a public consultation and I would personally be very keen to discuss these proposals with you.

I hope that you will be supportive of our proposals. In particular, there will be a temporary need for officers and staff to move out of Hammersmith Police Station as the works are carried out, but we can maintain the majority of these in alternative facilities, such as Empress State Building, within Hammersmith & Fulham for that period, and I would be happy to discuss with you the shared use of council or other premises.

I do hope this update is useful. I would very much welcome the chance to discuss these proposals with you as well as how we maintain the scale and shape of services in the Borough in these testing times. I will be in touch to arrange a meeting and discuss further shortly.

Yours sincerely

Gideon Springer

Chief Superintendent
Borough Commander Hammersmith and Fulham Borough

The council is failing to evict “neighbours from Hell”

Recently I asked Hammersmith and Fulham council:

“How many incidents of anti social behaviour were reported in 2014/15 where council tenants were the alleged perpetrators? Please advise both by number of incidents and by number of households accused of being responsible for at least one incident. How many evictions for anti social behaviour took place from 2014/15?”

The response from Mike England,

“I can confirm that the number of incidents of anti social behaviour that were reported in 2014/15, is as follows:

For cases received between 01 April 2014 to 31 March 2015, the number of individual perpetrators recorded as being council tenants was 361.

The number of evictions for ASB in 2014, between 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2014, was 10. For 2015, between 1 January 2015 to 29 June 2015, there has been one eviction for ASB.”

Of course some of the allegations are likely to be false. Others might be impossible to prove – but if this was a priority there are security firms that can gather evidence on persistent offenders. Court delays remains a problem though some action is being taken to help secure evictions. But an eviction rate of 1% or 2% seems pretty low to me.

The tenancy agreement says:

“In clauses a) and b) below, the tenant is responsible for the behaviour of anyone, including children, family, relatives and friends, who live or lodge at or visit the premises. The tenant shall
ensure that they do not act in breach of any of these clauses; nor must the tenant allow or permit them to act in such a way. This applies in the premises and anywhere in the local area.
Any breach of any of these clauses by others will be treated as a breach by the tenant. The tenant shall indemnify the council against all claims in respect of damage or nuisance caused by those others, including bearing the cost of making good or paying for any damage or defacement caused by those others.
 
a) Nuisance*
The tenant or anyone who lives or lodges at or visits the premises shall not do any of the following:
•threaten or use violence towards anyone in the local area, including council employees and contractors
•do anything that causes or is likely to cause nuisance or annoyance to anyone in the local area
•do anything that interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of anyone who lives in the local area
•play recorded or live music at loud volumes in the property or in any garden or communal area
•cause damage to or deface property in the local area belonging to others or the council
•use the premises for any immoral criminal or illegal purposes, or be convicted of an arrestable offence in the local area.

b) Harassment*
i) The tenant or anyone who lives or lodges at or visits the premises shall not harass anyone in the local area on the basis of their actual or perceived colour, race, nationality, ethnic origin, sex, sexuality, mental or physical disability, religious beliefs or on any other grounds whatsoever.
ii) Examples of harassment include but are not limited to verbal or written abuse or threats, denigrating comments verbally or in writing, physical violence or assault, deliberate damage to property.

c) Domestic violence*
The tenant shall not cause use or threaten to use violence (including psychological abuse) against anyone else living in the premises. If the tenant does cause use or threatens to use such violence and as a result anyone leaves the premises, the council may take steps to evict the tenant.”

But is the tenancy agreement enforced? All too often it is not.

Remember that there are many who would welcome the chance of a council tenancy. There are 69 families placed in bed and breakfast accommodation in Hammersmith and Fulham at considerable cost to the Council Taxpayer. Altogether there are 1,197 households in temporary accommodation.

At present the council’s policy is to regard “eviction as a last resort” rather than adopting a “zero tolerance policy”.  Pride is taken that in the tiny number of cases taken to court the success rate is high – but that is due to the risk averse approach of waiting until a mass of evidence before taking tough action.

Labour may regard their soft approach towards yobs as “caring”. I do not. It is not caring for the vast majority of decent residents who have to put up with this misery. Nor is it caring for those in overcrowded, poor quality temporary accommodation who would be all to willing to honour their tenancy agreement if they were given the chance of a council tenancy.

Let’s close Wormwood Scrubs prison

wormwoodscrubsWhen I was waiting for my first daughter to be born in Queen Charlotte’s Hospital I spent a lot of time looking out of the window at Wormwood Scrubs Prison – I reflected on its fine architecture but also on the poor asset management of having a prison so close to central London.

So I am pleased that in a speech earlier today the Justice Secretary Michael Gove said:

“I think we have to consider closing down the ageing and ineffective Victorian prisons in our major cities, reducing the crowding and ending the inefficiencies which blight the lives of everyone in them and building new prisons which embody higher standards in every way they operate. The money which could be raised from selling off inner city sites for development would be significant.

It could be re-invested in a modern prison estate where prisoners do not have to share overcrowded accommodation but also where the dark corners that facilitate bullying, drug-taking and violence could increasingly be designed out.

By getting the law right, getting operational practice right and getting the right, new, buildings we can significantly improve the security and safety of our prisons.

But the most important transformation I think we need to make is not in the structure of the estate, it’s in the soul of its inmates.”

The think tank Policy Exchange has noted how the cost of prison places varies hugely.

Danny Kruger of the charity Only Connect has written:

“I once heard, from an officer at HMP Wormwood Scrubs, of a foreign national prisoner released one Christmas. He wandered out of the famous gates… and turned down Du Cane Road. A few minutes later he was back. ‘Excuse me,’ he asked the officers at the gate, ‘can you direct me to the community?’ Blank faces. ‘I was told I was being released into the community. Where is it?’”

We can do better than that.

Andrew Slaughter and the Hamas connection

The election campaign in Hammersmith is naturally dominated by local and national issues. But it is important for voters to be aware of some alarmingly extreme views of Andrew Slaughter who is seeking re-election as the Labour MP. I have already written about his bizarre praise for the regimes in Cuba and in Venezuela.

But it is his dealing with Hamas that has caused most dismay – including within his own Party. Although he has the odd ally.

The blog Harry’s Place recently included this report:

Andy Slaughter is one of Labour’s worst helpers of extremists.

So this news from the Palestinian Forum in Britain (PFB) is no surprise:

The Palestinian Forum in Britain invite to attend the social monthly meeting scheduled for Saturday evening, the 4th of April 2015.

The social gathering will host Labour MP and candidate for the Party Andy Slaughter who will speak about his political platform and the role of Palestinian and Arab communities in the British elections.

PFB invite you to attend this important gathering to support those who always condone the Palestinian rights.

Your attendance is in support of the Palestinian rights and and those who work for Palestinian rights.

The Palestinian Forum in Britain

The PFB is part of the Hamas UK network.

One way you can see this is by looking at the speakers it invites to its events.

Andy-Slaughter-marching-against-Israel-with-Hafiz-al-Karmi-300x202They include no fewer than four foreigners who I understand have been excluded from the UK: Wagdi Ghoneim, Ahmad Nofal, Raed Salah, and Muhammad Musa al-Shareef. This may be an exclusion record for a single Islamist outfit.

In those speakers’ works one finds support for terrorism, including attacks on British troops on duty overseas; vicious antisemitism; calls for apostates from Islam to be killed; cruel misogyny; and more of the known horrors of Islamist extremism.

Mr Slaughter is happily courting the west London hate vote, as is his wont.

Andy Slaughter marching against Israel with Hafiz al-Karmi (to Slaughter’s right) of the PFB last summer.

The award winning blog has also chronicled Mr Slaughter’s dubious conduct in this matter previously.

Some may regard all this as irrelevant. But the extremist threat also exists closer to home. The Sunday Telegraph reported this morning on an al-Qaeda cleric suspected of radicalising “Jihadi John”.

It added:

Security services are understood to be investigating links between Hani al-Sibai and his influence on the west London terror network in which Jihadi John – unmasked as Mohammed Emwazi – operated.

It is claimed that al-Sibai, a charismatic preacher, had “captivated” a number of young Muslim men who subsequently went abroad to fight jihad.

In a court case last year, he was accused of having “provided material support to al-Qaeda and conspired to commit terrorist acts”, an allegation he denies.

Despite being officially identified as an affiliate of the notorious terror network, al-Sibai, citing his human rights, has thwarted government attempts to deport him for more than 15 years….

Bari’s son Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, 25, a one-time rap musician in west London, subsequently travelled to Syria and is thought to be part of Jihadi John’s network inside Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

The rent on father-of-five al-Sibai’s home in Hammersmith – owned by a housing association and worth as much as £1 million – is understood to be paid by the taxpayer.

The public purse has also paid for a number of legal actions brought by al-Sibai against the British government in his battle to prevent his deportation to Egypt and also attempts to have his name removed from terror sanctions lists.

From his home, al-Sibai, also known as Hani Youssef, runs an effective al-Qaeda propaganda machine, that includes the al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies. In recent months he has used various internet sites to praise bin Laden and glorify al-Qaeda for waging war against “the Crusader-Zionists”.

He has been described as a “long-time ally” of Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took over control of al-Qaeda following bin Laden’s death.

His alleged links to al-Qaeda have led to his bank accounts and assets being subjected to freezing orders by the United Nations, the UK Treasury and US Treasury.

Last year, in a publicly funded court case, al-Sibai went to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to try to get his status as an al-Qaeda affiliate overturned and allow him access to bank accounts and other financial assets….
 
Al-Sibai, who trained as a lawyer, denies the links to al-Qaeda although he refused to comment when approached by The Telegraph.

When al-Sibai first claimed asylum in the UK in 1994, he told officials he had been tortured in Egypt because he had acted as a lawyer for Islamist groups and was linked to the opposition Muslim Brotherhood.

He was refused asylum on national security grounds, and was jailed in 1998 pending deportation. However, human rights laws make it impossible for suspects to be returned to countries where they might be tortured or killed, and Britain was unable to obtain from Egypt the necessary assurances as to al-Sibai’s welfare.

Al-Sibai described the 7/7 attacks in London as a ‘great victory’ for al-Qaeda

He has since been given temporary leave to remain in the UK despite being added to the UN al-Qaeda sanctions list in 2005.

Last week, residents nearby described al-Sibai as an “elusive character” who would slip in and out of his house via the back door through an alleyway at the rear of his home.

The front windows are covered in bed sheets and blankets to prevent prying eyes. He has refused to deny links to Emwazi, who was born in Kuwait but grew up in west London and was part of a terror network that was centred on an area close to where al-Sibai lives.

Emwazi, 26, fled from Britain despite being on a terror watchlist and joined jihadists fighting in Syria. He is responsible for the murder of a number of Western hostages, including two Britons, whom he beheaded in videos posted on the internet as part of the Isil’s propaganda.

Throughout his time in the UK, al-Sibai has provoked outrage with a series of extremist comments, including describing the July 7 attacks on London as a “great victory” for al-Qaeda….

Greg Hands, a Conservative minister who raised concern over al-Sibai around nine years ago, said: “It is amazing that someone with these views is still being of influence today. This highlights again the need to repeal the Human Rights Act.”

The Government has achieved a great deal but the Lib Dems have blocked repeal of the Human Rights Act. It is among the reasons that a majority Conservative Government is so vital.