Police Promise Action During Stormy Meeting In Chiswick
Packed hall demands extra measures following upsurge in muggings
Police are taking action on the increase in crime in Chiswick and it is already yielding results, a senior police officer told a packed public meeting last Wednesday night (19 December).
The meeting was called by local councillors in response to growing concern about increased crime, particularly muggings of schoolchildren. The meeting was chaired by Torin Douglas and attended by local police officers, and Borough Inspector Dee O Brien. Ruth Cadbury MP was also present.
Superintendent Gary Taylor, the Deputy (West Area) Commander, said that undercover officers had been placed into the hotspot areas for the past ten days and some arrests had already been made in relation to knife crime. He said they had increased Stop and Search activities, and officers would be placed around tube stations as it appeared the gangs were using the transport network to come into the area.
There have been no arrests relating to the stabbing at Chiswick Park tube station or the reported incident near Rocks Lane. Supt Taylor said he agreed that street lighting needed to be undimmed in certain areas and that they would look to see where CCTV could be installed as an extra measure, particularly in the Chiswick Back Common area. This would involve discussions with Hounslow Council.
Nearly 300 people attended the meeting in St Michael & All Angels Church. Several parents of schoolchildren who had their mobile phones robbed by groups of older teenagers voiced their anger and said their children felt unsafe walking in the streets, even during daylight hours.
There was also anger at what was perceived to be a delay in response by the police to emergency calls. One resident said her 12 year old had a mobile phone stolen last year and the police had responded in eleven minutes, but last week in a similar incident involving her friend's 13-year old, police had taken over an hour to response. Supt Taylor said the objective target for an emergency call was 15 minutes, and they achieved this 85 per cent of the time but there were factors which could interfere with this. Several parents said they were concerned for the safety of their children on the streets in Chiswick, particularly around the tube stations and attacks were happening in broad daylight.
Supt Taylor said the new triborough arrangement (of Hounslow, Hillingdon and Ealing) meant police had more flexibility in allocating resources from the Basic Command Unit. The new area covered 102 square miles and over 1 million residents, and they were faced with a decrease in resources throughout London. However there had been significant reductions in knife crime and burglaries.
There were over 700 police in response units, in Feltham, Hayes and Ealing sites, and there was a proactive team which was deployed when needed. Officers from this high performing unit had spent the last ten days in Chiswick. Three arrests had been made of individuals who were believed responsible for at least nine knifepoint robberies in the borough.
Several people commented on the need for brighter street lights and more CCTV. Mayfield Avenue was mentioned as an area with low footfall and dim lighting.
Cllr Ranjit Gill said that street lights had been dimmed back by 20 per cent up to midnight and after that lights were dimmed by 50 per cent. Hounslow Council had agreed to undim lights in Chiswick Back Common and Windmill Road, and also brighter LED bulbs were to be placed in the heritage lighting on the Common. CCTV in the Rocks Lane area would be placed so that it could focus on individuals up to 10pm at night. Some residents raised the issue of undimming street lights throughout the whole of Chiswick. Cllr Sam Hearn said the dimming was a cost cutting measure introduced by LBH but in reality saved only a small amount of money in the context of the overall budget. Councillors were in discussion with the Council about this.
The manager of the Rocks Lane football/sports centre said there were over 6000 children a week using the centre. He said the young people using the centre confided in their coaches that they were afraid for their safety.
Some members of the audience felt that the consequences were not sufficient for crime to be a deterrent for the criminals. Others felt the police rate of response was too long as they had to come from Feltham.
One woman said she was worried about public safety following a shooting incident in Clovelly Road at 3 am . The gunman had visited the area two nights in a row. Police had not alerted locals to what she felt was a danger to their safety. The meeting was told that there had been two arrests made in relation to that incident. The street had been leafletted afterwards.
Several people raised the matter of the closure of Chiswick Police Station front office. People felt crime had increased . Several people said they believed there was a problem with drug dealing, particularly in the Back Common area. Supt Taylor said drug dealing could be a factor in the crime increase but it was difficult to make a direct link. It appeared young people were coming into the area for purposes of crime and using the transport system, and therefore the police presence would be stepped up at local tube stations.
Over sixty written questions were received and the meeting could not deal with them all. Supt Taylor said they would respond to all emailed queries. He said he would return in three months for another public meeting and the police had welcomed the feed back from the public and would step up action in Chiswick. You can see a recorded version from chiswickbuzz tv.
Ruth Cadbury commented: ‘‘I was glad to be invited to the public meeting about policing organised by conservative councillors in Chiswick. What came over was local people’s fears about knife crime and muggings, the closure of Chiswick police station, and the increased response time by the police.
She said she was disappointed to be heckled when suggesting that government cuts had impacted the ability of the police to respond to crime.
"The Conservative Home Secretary Sajid Javid has even said that
he’s concerned about the ability of the Metropolitan police to tackle
violent crime in London with the current levels of funding. A number of
constituents approached me afterwards, and told me that they agreed with
my point about police funding. I will continue to work with our police,
and councillors on local policing, whilst also standing up in Parliament
to ensure our police are fully funded.’’
In Hounslow the number of both police, and community support officers
has decreased by 88 since 2010.
December 20, 2018