Policing in Tower Hamlets

I was pleased that the Government allocated 147 extra Police Officers to Tower Hamlets as that means a 25% increase in police numbers in the borough. But street crime in Tower Hamlets is still 50% higher than the London average.

Earlier this year I raised the concerns of Tower Hamlets residents in a debate on Policing:-

‘I wish to apologise to the residents of Pevensey House, Harvey House, Pelican Wharf, Alliston House, Gascoigne Place, Gun Place and Roman Road, among others, who have written to me in great detail about the gang behaviour that is causing them continual suffering and unacceptable harassment.

One of the biggest casualties has been police response time, owing to the fact that the police have been so overstretched. A local councillor set out a familiar story:

“At 9.00 pm… I reported that a group of people were drug dealing openly around Vallance Road… I was told an officer would come around to investigate and take details. At 12.45 am I telephoned again… again at 1.15 am and yet again at 1.45 am, by which time I had waited nearly five hours for an officer to get to the scene”,

and he eventually went to bed. He added:

“These same people are always dealing here and this was not an isolated incident.”

Mr. Brian Boag writes that when he reported gangs vandalising cars, he was informed that there was a five to six-hour wait for police that evening. They were dealing with serious calls. He says:

“I am a senior nurse in the health service and have seen the changes and improvements in health care provision. I recognise that these have resulted as a consequence of new Labour's action. I know there is more to come in relation to public services, but situations similar to the one I have outlined above cannot be allowed to continue.”

The last resident whom I shall quote, Mr. Uddin from London E14, said:

“I could not get police to help. I telephoned five times and waited 1_ hours. Then they told me they could not come. Please tell us how are we going to live in this borough without police help?”

Thankfully, we are getting that police help; a 25 per cent. increase will have a huge impact.’

Root Causes
In Tower Hamlets permanent exclusions of primary and secondary school pupils have increased by almost a quarter—24 per cent.—since 1998-99. That is why education services in Tower Hamlets will now be working with the community partnership to track what problem young people are doing inside and outside school. Our approach must be targeted. It is an astonishing fact that a quarter of the offences committed by young people are the work of just 3 per cent. of that group. We must nail that 3 per cent. of offenders, but we must help the other 97 per cent. of offenders, most of whom come from the poorest households.

Solutions
One solution is more police. We have them, but demographic trends in Tower Hamlets, with growing numbers in the age cohort that commits most crime, means that we will need more. We need more consistent sentencing. Inconsistent sentencing causes much distress not only to the victims but to the police. We need an effective multi-agency approach to crime reduction, more tightly linking the police, local authorities, the Crown Prosecution Service and the probation service, the emergency services, drug action teams, health authorities and the local community and voluntary sector. We also need to improve our action and record in the battle against drugs.

New Borough Commander
I wish to welcome the new borough commander in Tower Hamlets, Mark Simmons. It is a challenge; I know that he is equal to it. Let us work together to ensure that the 25 per cent. increase in police numbers helps to ease the distress of so many residents in Tower Hamlets.