The Council was unanimous last week in its criticism of the Government and Mayor of London for underfunding local policing.
At the full Council meeting, members from across the political divide called on the Government and the Mayor of London to recognise the valid concerns of local people and businesses about an increase of some of the most violent crimes in the borough.
The cross-party motion called on both the Government and the Mayor to give additional resources to our local police, and to work constructively together to address those concerns and to enable our excellent officers to respond in a timely way.
Richmond upon Thames is one of the safest boroughs in London, the safest for violent crime, however, members are concerned that the lack of funding for policing and the new regional approach, is putting this status at risk.
In the last calendar year we have seen a welcome reduction in the overall crime rate in our borough, however there has in recent months been a worrying rise in personal robbery. Councillors fear that without additional funding for local police, this could be a slippery slope.
Cllr Liz Jaeger, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, who proposed the motion, said:
“It is a fact that we are a safe borough. However, in recent weeks we have seen a spate of crimes that have shocked many local communities.
“There are a host of reasons for these crimes. However, one thing is clear - there are less Police officers on the beat and a rise in vacancies.
“Our local police work so hard to keep us safe. But, they can only work within the resources they have. They are stretched. The only way to fix this problem is for the Government and the Mayor of London to provide adequate funding. Our safety is in their hands.
“We will be writing to the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, inviting him to come to Richmond and discuss this further. Meanwhile, I would ask residents to continue to take sensible precautions to keep themselves and property safe and secure. There is lots of advice available including planning ahead, consider carrying a personal alarm and remain aware of your surroundings.”
Cllr Peter Buckwell, an opposition councillor from South Richmond, seconded the motion, he said:
“It’s no secret that the rise in violent crime across London has taken everybody by surprise. The number of attacks on teenagers is of particular concern to parents.
“We also have a rise in the number of minor crimes, professional beggars, pickpockets, shoplifters and Anti-Social Behaviour. To deter crime we need a daily visible police presence in our town centres. Our police to a great job but they need additional resources. Many residents feel unsafe. We need more police are required on our streets and more funding is needed to see violent crime eliminated from our borough.”
South West BCU Commander, Chief Superintendent Sally Benatar, added:
“We work closely in partnership with Richmond Council, local partners and community groups to keep Richmond upon Thames a safe borough. The Metropolitan Police is actively recruiting police officers now, this will enable us to fill the vacancies we currently have on the South West BCU and allow us to continue to prioritise our preventative approach to tackling crime and violence.”
— from a Richmond Council press release - 24 January 2019