Claire Rai, Head of Community Safety, introduced the report explaining that the council paid for additional police officers on the borough’s streets and that the current administration had increased the number of officers it funded from 36 to 44. The council funded police officers worked closely with council staff and were of real benefit to many services. The council’s additional funding meant that the borough had eight constables who were each responsible for local policing issues in two wards as well as a crime prevention design adviser and a gangs outreach officer.
Police officers carried out joint enforcement of PSPOs and borough wide orders, such as the controlled drinking zone, each day. Each week joint weapons sweeps were carried out with the parks police and neighbourhood wardens service, whilst each month joint rough sleeping patrols were undertaken. Quarterly ‘days of action’ involving a wide range of partners took place focussing on the council’s priorities.
The enhanced policing team helped the police to engage with residents better, with officers having attended over 100 community meetings in the past year. Officers also delivered monthly street briefings and supported the borough’s neighbourhood watch schemes, of which there were now more than 200. Officers also attended the Safer Neighbourhoods Board.
The Chair thanked officers for their report. He welcomed the positive impact that the additional officers were having on the borough and thanked those additional officers for their hard work.
Councillor Holder asked where meetings attended by the police were advertised, as she felt that more could be done to promote these. Inspector Hannah Wheeler explained that meetings were advertised on the Metropolitan Police’s Hammersmith and Fulham page (http://content.met.police.uk/Borough/Hammersmith). They were also tweeted and promoted in newsletters. Dave Page, Director of Safer Neighbourhoods, suggested that the council’s website could also be used to promote police meetings and agreed to raise the issue with the council’s communications team.
Councillor Dewhirst asked whether officers knew what the new Mayor of London’s policing priorities were. Claire Rai said that his priorities during the campaign had been gangs and youth crime, however, a fuller picture was expected by early autumn. Dave Page explained that funding for existing projects was secure until March 2017. He also explained that the council had contacted the new mayor to explain their opposition to a proposed merging of the Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster borough commands. Councillor Dewhirst asked for a copy of the letter which had been sent on this issue. Dave Page agreed to pass this request on to Councillor Cartwright as the letter had not been sent by officers.
The Chair asked whether there was anything more the council could be doing to support the work of the additional officers. Claire Rai explained that the police already benefitted from the extensive CCTV network which the council maintained. The local knowledge of Neighbourhood Wardens was also a very useful resource, as was the professional witness service. She felt that the police and council worked very closely together. Dave Page explained that youth re-offending rates were quite high and that the council was trying to intervene to tackle a small group of regular offenders which he felt would be helpful to the police. He explained that he was particularly impressed with the work of the council’s prevent team which was very active, and with the massive growth in the neighbourhood watch scheme over the past 8 years. Mr Page added that the council was looking to launch a digital section of neighbourhood watch to engage more people. Claire Rai noted that the police and council were very good at engaging children in schools and indeed elderly people but that more needed to be done to engage the working age population and she hoped that the new digital support for neighbourhood watch schemes would help.
The Chair thanked police and council officers for their helpful responses to the committee’s questions.