Crime and Punishment
Crime is rising up the agenda locally, with many more emails and other correspondence on the matter covering everything from counter-terrorism measures after the SE1 attack, to anti-social behaviour in many parts of Rotherhithe, Bermondsey and Walworth, moped thefts and crimes using mopeds (stealing mobile phones for example).
Since 2010, Southwark has lost over 200 police officers and PCSOs under Lib Dem/Tory Government cuts. The inspectorate of constabulary reported earlier this year that the Met were short of 700 detectives. Too many crimes go unsolved and the growth of terror attacks and knife and other violent crime should mean the police have more resources and powers. Instead the Government is axing a further £400 million from London’s policing.
I met with Sophie Linden, London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime at City Hall to discuss all these issues. The key items raised were:
- The potential merger of Southwark and Lambeth police forces which will leave our area with the highest 999 call volume anywhere in the capital. We already have a greater risk of terror incidents and a far higher volume of tourism and transport hubs serving millions of people but attracting some additional crime. I am seeking greater assurances that these issues were considered in drawing up plans.
- Sadiq Khan’s delivery of two dedicated ward officers to every local ward. This will hopefully improve local intelligence and visibility in the ten wards in Bermondsey and Old Southwark and with it reduce some opportunistic crime.
- The closure of the ‘front desk’ facility at Southwark police station. Rotherhithe station is already shut and Peckham faces closure. The only front counter in the whole of Southwark will be at Walworth police station, open 24 hours a day. I am unconvinced Walworth is either well-located or able to facilitate the larger footfall. It has just two counters, four waiting seats and a queue out the door whenever I have visited. City Hall will provide more information on plans to expand capacity.
- The inability of 101 to help enable more people to report crime by phone. At a recent Rotherhithe policing meeting, people mentioned waiting an hour to get a call answered which is unacceptable and is a side effect of higher 999 call volumes. The Met also want more crimes reported online. I hope the Met will properly assess broadband speeds to ensure this is possible consistently across Southwark. Rotherhithe does not have acceptable access/speeds for example.
- Moped related crime has rocketed across London. The Met’s specialist programme, Operation Venice, has drawn on serious and organised crime units to crack down and is seeing progress in some areas. Officers have discovered and removed four mopeds in Newington ward alone recently. I will be asking manufacturers like Vespa to do more to protect people who buy their vehicles but will also be seeking clarification on police powers. When I joined the recent emergency shift not one pursuit of a moped was permitted and this is part of the problem.
- Knife crime has also risen sadly again, with two more attacks on Walworth Road recently. Southwark has the highest knife crime rate in London. Shockingly, the prosecution rate is a mere 15%. The punishment for knife crime is not being meted out. It is the second anniversary of 15 year old Mohamed Dura-Ray’s murder. His family join the long queue awaiting justice. The Deputy Mayor agreed to hold a Southwark event to discuss the London strategy to tackle knife crime with local police, community organisations, schools and more. Please let me know if you’d like to attend.
Crime has a devastating effect on families across Southwark. But our police are being robbed of the ability to help prevent, tackle and solve crime by a Government unwilling to listen and completely out of touch with communities like ours.