Thursday, 31 March 2011
Crime is rising in Shepherd's Bush and now Arabic and French speaking Met Officers have been drafted in to cope with a spate of robberies being led by criminal gangs with links to a number of countries in North Africa, according to comments made by the Police at the last Shepherd's Bush Green Safer Neighbourhood Team meeting at Shepherd's Bush police station.
A large operation was recently organised involving the Safer Neighbourhood Team, Arabic and French-speaking covert officers, the UK Border Agency and the Met Police Territorial Support Group. This resulted in five arrests for a variety of offences including possession of a false French ID card, theft of mobile phones, shoplifting and immigration offences.
It's unclear what lies behind the attention being given to our part of London by these gangs but you would think the combination of Westfield, with its ready stream of potential victims, coupled with the fact that a short stroll along Uxbridge Road reveals that a large part of our community themselves are from North Africa means that although this all sounds rather dramatic it's probably local kids using family connections to try and get away with nicking wallets.
However, what is clear is that our Council's cuts are starting to impact on the Police's ability to deal with this problem. I reported here on how the Safer Neighbourhood Teams themselves are at risk and at the same meeting it was revealed that the number of Police Constables patrolling Westfield has been cut from 8 to 5, despite the team making on average 5 arrests per week.
And for our streets themselves the picture is even worse. According to the Police it is likely that PCSO numbers will drop from 15 to 3, Sergeants from 5 to 3 and therefore teams themselves from 5 to 3. PC’s might increase but Shepherd's Bush ward may no longer have 24/7 cover.
I say all of this because it's factually true, and I think you need to know - but I would also say that I have quite a lot of respect for the lead Councillor at H&F responsible for crime, Greg Smith, who led the introdcution of Safer Neighbourhood Teams in 2009. He's a bit of a bruiser among his colleagues which is why he was picked to lead the general election campaign of Tory candidate Shaun Bailey in May last year, a campaign which was both nasty and, er, robust at times. What that means for policing is that he is probably the best person you would want in that job, because he's stuck up for his budget as best he can and if crime starts to pick up as a result of these cuts I'd want him to be the one arguing the case for doing something about it with Council Leader Greenhalgh.
But the impact of this cuts meeting at the Town Hall is going to be more far reaching than maybe even the Councillors themselves fully realised. Look out for your wallet.
5th April UPDATE - The Fulham Chronicle has now caught up with this story here - you know where you read it first, folks
Posted by Chris Underwood at 07:01