St Margarets & North Twickenham Ward Police Liaison Group Public Meeting
Heatham House, Thursday, 19 February 2009
Dr Jenny Atton (Chair, PLG); Cllr Ben Khosa (Vice Chair); Dr Keith Johns (Interim Secretary); Sgt Steve Davis; PC Alistair Threadgold; PC Lee Dorman; PCSO Eugenia Venour; PCSO Kane Ball; PCSO Lee Nunes; PCSO Ed Green; Peter Kirkham (LBRUT); plus four residents.
Cllr Geoff Acton
Dr Atton opened the meeting by reminding everyone that its purpose is to support and guide the police and act as a bridge between the community and the police.
She then mentioned the police guidelines about to come into force (in March) on directing people to leave localities. This is a new way to combat alcohol-related crimes or disorder.
As Dr Atton is leaving the locality, she tendered her resignation. Cllr Ben Khosa will stay on as Vice-Chair. The role of Secretary is also vacant.
‘Sixty Years of Teenagers’
Guest speaker Mike Roe, Senior Youth Worker at Heatham House, gave a highly informative talk about the history and current use of Heatham House as a youth centre. The facilities and activities available for teenagers were described, and it was emphasised that this is one of the few places in the Borough that provides a welcoming environment for young people.
After the talk, there was a discussion about the behaviour of young people away from Heatham House, and specifically what can be done about anti-social behaviour in Moormead Park. It was felt that the key issue is alcohol, and while Heatham House does not allow alcohol on the premises, it is difficult to prevent drinking in areas like the park. Mr Roe emphasised that these problems are outside the control of the Heatham House staff, and he felt that more workers in Outreach teams are required in order to engage with young people throughout the Borough. It is hoped that this will happen soon, with some funding provided by LBRUT to sponsor Outreach working. Sgt. Davis acknowledged that there is still a problem in Moormead Park, and suggested a separate meeting between all interested parties to discuss this.
Sgt Davis said that PCSO powers will be published in an email.
There has been much media comment about aggressive stop and search tactics used by the Metropolitan Police, but he didn’t feel that this is a problem in this Ward. He asked if anyone present had strong feelings on the stop and search techniques. Dr Atton said that she understood the stop and search statistics for LBRUT indicated that police sometimes seemed to target ethnic minorities disproportionately compared with the residential/racial mix. Analysis of this disproportionality in LBRUT has shown it to be due to the high number of students studying at colleges in the Borough, and not due to targeting of BME persons by the police.
Sgt Davis gave an overview of police activity, before handing over to PC Threadgold.
The main activity has been dealing with disorder in Moormead Park. There is still a problem with youths drinking and making a nuisance of themselves in the Park. In response, the Safer Neighbourhood Team visit the Park regularly, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Due to lack of resources and commitments elsewhere in the Borough it is not possible to police the Park all the time. Moormead Park is a priority, however, and there is a commitment to policing the Park throughout the summer months until 0230 on weekends.
Councillor Khosa asked Sgt Davis if his Safer Neighbourhood Team could work with the Riverside Team to increase the resources available to police Moormead Park. Sgt Davis said that this already occurs, but there are still not enough resources available for continuous policing. Some incidents in the Park have occurred after Special Constables have been to the Park and found no-one there. A short-term answer may be to work with Heatham House to engage with the youths. Mr Roe said that in his opinion only a few youths are bad, and the solution is to engage and negotiate with them.
Mr Adrian Fowler complained that he had telephoned the police on some occasions when an incident had occurred in Moormead Park, but the police hadn’t turned up. Sgt Davis acknowledged that this can be a problem due to limited resources, but that if residents dialled the numbers published in the Safer Neighbourhood leaflets, they are guaranteed a response within 24 hours. Mr Fowler said that residents are confused by all the phone numbers. Dr Atton said that there is a need to publicise the numbers more, and she encouraged local resident’s associations to publish them in their newsletters.
Councillor Khosa was asked by Ms Dominique Field what the Council is doing about the youth problem, which often means gangs of 20-30 young people. He said that the Council is working with the police, and the Council now has five Youth Centres and various Youth Projects established in the Borough.
Sgt Davis reported on the latest crime figures for the Ward.
The overall figures are much the same as last year; however drug offences have increased, due to more stop and search operations carried out on Richmond College students. Sgt Davis noted that the number of students at the college virtually doubles the population of the Ward every day. Theft and handling offences have also increased, some of this being due to offences committed at Twickenham Stadium concerts. Overall, the figures are less than those for the Metropolitan Police in general. Violence against persons offences are mainly due to rugby day urination orders, which fall into this category. Theft of pedal cycles has decreased significantly, but criminal damage and theft from motor vehicles has increased slightly.
Mr Fowler asked Sgt Davis if he thought that crime would increase as a result of the recession. Sgt Davis said that he didn’t know, but the police are planning for a slight increase.
Policing priorities (attendees suggestions)
Dr Atton asked for the views of attendees regarding where they felt police should place their priorities. At the last public meeting on 21 October 2008, the priorities were deemed to be: anti-social behaviour, littering, burglary, theft of pedal cycles and fear of crime. The revised priorities for the next six months are:
- anti-social behaviour
- theft from vehicles
Any Other Business
Mr Peter Kirkham, of the LBRUT Community Safety Partnership (CSP), introduced himself as the Hate Crime Coordinator and gave the meeting a brief description of the activities of the CSP, which include dealing with domestic abuse and anti social behaviour. The CSP team can be contacted on 020 8891 7777.
Next public meeting
To be combined with the Council Area meeting on Tuesday 6 October 2009 (preliminary date). Dr Atton closed the Police Liaison Group meeting at 9 pm.