Forum members make impact at crime meeting

Jim Lawes on a visit to the Police Consultative Group

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The Police in Chiswick


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I was mildly excited as I drove into the Civic Centre car park at Hounslow to attend the Police Consultative Group meeting.

Direction arrows pointed the way to "Main Reception" to which I hurried...only to find the double glass doors locked! (No poster advertising the way to the Meeting). I retraced my steps and saw a wide open door.

I went in, without being challenged by anyone, but I saw a Security Chap in a little corner room. "Which way to the Police Meeting?" I asked. "I don't know" he replied, "you're the second Person to have asked me"

He told me to go up the stairs and there'll be a Notice Board!

I walked into Committee Room 1/2, perhaps expecting to see a stand up drinks party going on. But no, it was a large (hotel-type) carpeted room with tables and chairs laid out like the local Rotary Club.

There were four people on the top table, including Tony Arbour leader of Richmond Council and our local GLA representative, Flavia Beckwith (vice Chair and a Chiswickian),the Chair Mohammad Chaudhry.

The two long tables (sprigs) had about 11 people on each. On the right side sat first the Hounslow Borough Police Chief, and his able team including 2 cadets who had just one awards and then representatives of various Borough organisations like Victim Support, residents groups, some ethnic and religeous groups.

On the left side were two only (I believe)of the 4 nominated Councillors, a representative of the Somalian Community,the Neighourhood watch, and other groups who at some stage had asked if they could join the Forum/Committee (just like forum contributors could !!).

At the back of the room, facing the top table, sat just eight members of the public, four of which were forum participants. Gareth leaned over "are you from Chiswick?". We sat together on the front row, later Cllr Oulds came in and he sat next to me, and Geoff Rippingdale joined us too. (Cllr. Oulds sat in the public seats as he not one of the four Councillors on the Committee)

Just before the meeting started, with everyone in place I realised that we hadn't got a copy of the Agenda and Reports. I was directed to the top table. I asked for an Agenda and, quite rightly, was asked who I was. So: handshakes and introductions with the top table before lift off!

The documents handed to us were first class, in clarity and thoroughness. Lots of information about the "Reduction in Crime" schemes going on, and interestingly, lots of info about attendance and non attendance at these meetings.

This Police Consultative Group has statutory backing, and is an independent liaison between the Community and the Police. It was clear to us on the night that it does a valuable job. The meeting was very well conducted, with microphones on all tables etc.

During the interval, Chief Inspector Wynne Jones came over to speak to us, and we spoke to him directly about Chiswick crime. He said he read the forum, as did others at Chiswick, Brentford and Hounslow Police Station. He was very informative, both during the interval, and during the Meeting, and he is definitely a key contact

The Borough is hard pressed to cope with the amount of crime going on. In Cranford, for example only 1% of residents enjoy living in that area, whereas in Chiswick the figure is over 90%. So Cranford gets priority. In a 3 month period, 1000 hours of police time has to be spent outside the Borough, helping other incidents. This reduces the number of Police hours on the High Road, or in Devonshire Road.

Tony Arbour, a celebrity in the field of Local Government then came over to meet us. He said that he was a keen reader of Chiswick Forum messages. Flavia Beckwith, Vice Chair, also came to see us. She is very knowledgable about the Committee's work, and living in Chiswick, it is inconceivable that she has not had Chiswick's plight in her mind.

Nonetheless, we made a very positive presence. We established for ourselves how easy it is (ie not difficult) to get more involved with this Committee, both for keeping them informed of Chiswick's plight, and they in return furnishing us with re-assuring information.

We are planning to make contact with some of those present, to gleen contact numbers and perhaps get a reassuring Report from the Police for publication.

Unlike the current "politically fixed" arrangement, there will,in future, be "5 Councillors,one each from the Area Committees of Heston & Cranford, Hounslow West, Central Hounslow, Brentford & Isleworth AND not least CHISWICK!. The next meeting is 15th November, but before then the 5th councillor, he or she who will represent Chiswick on this Police Committee will need to be appointed.

September 23, 2004