To receive a presentation from Chief Inspector Causer on the work and priorities for the Metropolitan Police in Hammersmith & Fulham
The Chair welcomed Supt Mike Hill to the meeting, who gave a verbal report on the key Policing issues in Hammersmith & Fulham. He explained that in June 2013 a new local Policing model was imposed upon the force with a defined officer structure. This change reduced the size of teams responding to 999 calls and to the CID, but increased the numbers of Police working in a neighbourhood role. The priorities for the Police in Hammersmith & Fulham were set out by MOPAC (the Mayor’s Office for Policing & Crime), which demanded a significant reduction in certain crimes. The progress made in the borough for each target crime over the preceding four years was:
· burglary – 27% reduction
· criminal damage – 20% reduction
· robbery – 53.1% reduction
· theft from motor vehicle – 32% reduction
· theft of motor vehicle – 10% reduction
· theft from person – 39% reduction
· violence with injury – increased by 7%
Supt Hill explained however that if the same crimes were measured over just the preceding twelve months, the picture was less positive:
· burglary – 3% reduction
· criminal damage – 17% increase
· robbery – 36.3% reduction
· theft from motor vehicle – increased 1%
· theft of motor vehicle – 31% increase
· theft from person – 23% reduction
· violence with injury – 13.8% increase
Giving context to these statistics, Supt Hill explained that the increase in violence with injury was a result of new reporting standards which now included domestic abuse in this category. Reported instances of domestic abuse were increasing approximately 16% year on year. Supt Hill saw this as a success however as it demonstrated that victims of domestic abuse were increasingly prepared to report the crime. He explained that the Police had invested energy towards establishing trust with residents and encouraging the reporting of such crimes, so the increase was a sign that this was working. The figures were also skewed by the decision to consider every instance where blood is drawn as GBH, which meant that even if the harm was only a scratch it was now included in this category.
With regard to the criminal damage increase, Supt Hill explained that the hotspot where most instances took place was Hammersmith Police station due to suspects damaging cells. He also reported that 40% of all criminal damage was committed within the home, which made it hard to target or patrol.
The increase in the instances of theft of motor vehicles was a recent occurrence and the Police were now targeting it as a priority. Motor vehicle theft in west London was different to the rest of the capital with motorbikes targeted more often than expensive cars. Piaggio scooters seemed to be particularly at risk so the Police was contacting registered owners.
Members of the public asked about the gender split of victims of violence with injury. Supt Hill reported that around 90% of domestic violence was men on women. Excluding domestic abuse, the victims were more varied with occurrences in a wide range of scenarios and at all occasions, although the majority of suspects and victims were male. Supt Hill also highlighted that the borough did not have a problem with its pubs as a result of partnership working with the Council’s licensing team. For example the Walkabout pub was closed down for persistent cases of violence. Members of the Committee asked for information on the conviction rate for cases of domestic violence, which Supt Hill undertook to provide.
Action: Supt Hill
Supt Hill also reported that the force measured public confidence and satisfaction with the Police. For people who had not been involved in a crime, 76% viewed the local Police as either good or excellent. For those that had had recent experience with the Police, this figure was 83%.
The Committee also heard about issues for the force in the future. Supt Hill described how more officers were moving into posts with a greater focus on terrorism, which would likely necessitate a reduction in neighbourhood policing. He also highlighted the ongoing cuts to all public expenditure and the anticipated further reductions in funding. Given that 80% of the force’s costs were wages, he anticipated that the borough would be required to reduce officers in the future.
The meeting discussed the relationship between the Police and the Council, with Supt Hill reporting that it was among the closest he knew of. There had been a long history of productive cooperative working whereby each partner was able to act as a critical friend for the other. The Committee noted that the Council would be funding eight new officers and an inspector from 1st April 2015. The officers would be tasked with eliminating crimes that resulted from social exclusion.
A member of the public asked about how the borough’s parks were policed and how environmental factors were considered. The Council’s Director for Safer Neighbourhoods reported that the Council had a dedicated Parks Police, which Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea were two of only three London boroughs which did. All crimes detected by the Parks Police were reported to the Metropolitan Police who then investigated and charged offenders. The Council worked with resident groups to address factors such as lighting or landscaping, however the ability to make any changes was sometimes dependant on available finances. The meeting was also informed that there was a network of Neighbourhood Wardens and this was the only London borough with a lawyer embedded with the Police to help tackle domestic violence and improve conviction rates.
A member of the public asked for statistics on rape and sexual assault, which Supt Hill undertook to provide.
Action: Supt Hill
The Committee identified that many members of the public found it frustrating to see Police officers patrolling in pairs and travelling by private car rather than being visible on public transport. Supt Hill explained that the default patrol in the borough and across London was for single officers to increase spread and visibility. He recognised that this didn’t always happen, but it was the Metropolitan Police policy. Members also heard how officers had now been issues with iPads to encourage them to complete their paperwork in public places such as cafes to increase visibility.
The Committee thanks Supt Hill for his attendance and for the ongoing work of the Police.