Friday, 24 June 2011

£5million for police in H&F

Cllr Greg Smith with local Police

Following my night with the Police last Saturday I had some good news today which is that Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council is ploughing £1.3million a year into the Met's coffers, with local firms adding an extra £350,000 a year.

The cash is being used to boost the standard Safer Neighbourhoods Teams (SNT) in the borough's three town centres - which are based on one Sergeant, two PCs and three PCSOs and are paid for by the Mayor of London.

I can't think of a better place for this money to go - as I witnessed just last Saturday night, these people go non stop for 12 hour shifts dealing with everything from terminally ill alcoholics with humanity and respect to potentially violent situations involving brawls on estates. All of which goes largely unnoticed - and frequently under-funded. The Council do deserve real credit for this.

The new arrangement will see the council focusing its resources on more warranted officers, although the PCSOs that are funded by the Mayor of London will remain. Their numbers have of course dropped dramatically in Shepherd's Bush from 15 to just 6.

Two more Inspectors, four extra Sergeants and 38 additional PCs, than would otherwise be available under the normal SNT model, will join the battle against crime as the council calls on the Police to 'get tough' on the criminal minority.

Cllr Greg Smith, Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council Cabinet Member for Residents Services, says:
"Beat bobbies beat crime and, despite the nationwide spending squeeze, we have found a way to improve our town centre squads by putting more PCs onto the front-line than ever before. This will give us some of the best Policed town centres in Britain."
In 2007, H&F became one of the first councils in Britain to use its own money to pay for extra beat Police and the new arrangement will see 16 more PCs drafted on to the front-line compared to the old model.

By taking advantage of the Met's 'matched funding' offer, taxpayers are also saving around £232,000 on the cost of buying-in PCs meaning the new contract offers far greater value for money to residents, according to the council. The three-squads will work on tailored shift patterns designed to sharpen the focus on problem times and areas. The three year deal was formally approved yesterday (June 23).

"Residents are getting more cops for their buck than ever before," continues Cllr Smith. "We are giving the Met the tools to cut crime and now we expect results. All inner city boroughs present significant crime challenges but our goal remains to become one of the safest boroughs in the country."

As part of the agreement, Westfield London is also paying around £750,000 over three years to provide a permanent onsite police team with high visibility patrols inside their centre. As well as acting on ward priorities the enhanced Shepherds Bush SNT will deter property crime and anti-social behaviour inside the centre.

HammersmithLondon Business Improvement District, which represents businesses around Hammersmith Broadway, is also ploughing in around £100,000 to help fund additional officers in the ward.

Cllr Smith concluded by saying:
"In an age when Police budgets are tight, because of the need to tackle the nation's massive budget deficit, it is up to councils and businesses to look at innovative ways that deliver what residents and customers want.

"The age of all Police officers being directly paid for by the Home Office or Mayor of London is over. If a business or local authority wants to buy in extra Police they should not just be able to - they should be encouraged to ."
Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Lucy D'Orsi said:
"I am delighted that the council has agreed to continue their spending on enhanced policing within the three town centres. We are currently working with the local authority to finalise the targets and outcomes for these areas which fundamentally will be about reducing crime. A focus on these three areas will undoubtedly help us to reduce crime across the borough and disrupt criminals from moving around the borough. The re-investment in these teams sends out a strong message to those intent on committing crime in these areas that, as a borough, we will identify them and we will bring them to justice."
Shepherds Bush Green is also the focus of an intense police operation to crack down on burglars and violent robbers.Operation Target was launched earlier this month and sees the Flying Squad, traffic and mounted branches and undercover operations set up in a number of areas across the capital.

The operation is one of the most significant initiatives of its kind ever conducted by the Met Police and is a renewed drive to tackle crime against people and property in London leading to significant, long term reductions.

Detective Chief Inspector Geoff Smith from Hammersmith & Fulham Police said:
"We want to make Hammersmith & Fulham one of the safest and most crime free Borough's in London. Over the coming months resources will be deployed to tackle crimes of violence, burglary, robbery, car crime and anti-social behaviour by targeting those relatively few people who commit the bulk of crime.

"As always, this task is always easier when the community support us and work with us. I would ask them to always consider basic levels of security."
All of this is great news - but we still have the situation of officers from the Shepherd's Bush SNT having to drive around in an un-funded van that is well past its sell by date and purchasing their own bits of kit. Since my night with them last Saturday I have been lobbying about this and will hopefully have some news next week on that too - you know where you'll read it first...

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