In February last year, I wrote a blog piece on this website praising the prime Minister for raising the issue of binge drinking and at the time, it was looking like David Cameron would take some strong action on the issue – LINK.
The problems with street drinking, and especially in this current amazing weather, are persisting in Neasden. I feel a minimum pricing policy would deter people from drinking so much. We have a dispersal zone in place which should be helping tackle the impact of street drinking and it is illegal anyway. However, there is a lack of police presence and patrolling in the area because of successive years of police cuts – LINK.
In addition to the failure to introduce plain package cigarettes, it looks like the Tory Liberals will also not be introducing minimum pricing for alcohol. In addition, research published in the British Medical Journey yesterday showed that the number of deaths among women born in the 1970s has “disproportionately increased” since the mid-2000s – LINK.
The Government needs to act on the alcohol health warnings that are screaming out at everyone.
It is great news that finally after working with residents and the local Safer Neighbourhood Team that we have managed to successfully lobby for a dispersal zone to be implemented in the Neasden Shopping Centre area.
The Zone implemented means that police have the power to split up groups and has sanctions if they return. People have already been arrested for breaching Police warnings so some success is there and this is a good thing.
However, it is disappointing to see that there are simply not enough police officers visible or patrolling to maximise the success of having this zone in place. Your Labour Action team is raising the matter with the Police and hoping to increase patrols in the area.
Crime and anti-social behaviour is by far the biggest issue in Dudden Hill on the doorstep. The situation is not helped by the cuts in our local dedicated Safer Neighbourhood Team.
In 2011/2012, we invested £2,449 in the Safer Neighbourhood Team to provide crime reasurance and prevention equipment.
In addition £3,816was provided to Elders Voice who provided home security improvements and advice to vulnerable residents aged over 60. £180 worth of safety equipment was also funded to the newly formed Ashcombe Park Neighbourhood Watch.
Compare Ken’s response to the 7/7 bombings to the Boris response to the London riots.
London needs a serious Mayor for serious times who can provide leadership. Not Boris, who is too preoccupied with his main job as a columnist for the Daily Telegraph and has no time to be an effective Mayor for London – and does not care enough to cut his luxury holiday short to fulfil his duty as Mayor of London to provide assurance to the City after major events such as the riots last summer.
Vote Ken Livingstone for a real leader for London!
Police numbers in Dudden Hill are simply too low. My ward currently has only one Sergeant, one PC and one PCSO as part of the dedicated Ward Safer Neighbourhood Team at the moment.
Last night, I was on a joint collaborative ward walkabout with Welsh Harp Ward to investigate cross-ward issues in the Neasden area. Residents are also welcome to join me this Sunday with the Dudden Hill Safer Neighbourhood Team for a walkabout in the Neasden Shopping Centre area at 9.30am. The issues that we are trying to solve simply need more resources.
There are currently three different area with differing problems that we are trying to deal with at the moment. In Neasden, we have the street drinking and anti-social behaviour, in the Dollis Hill part of the Ward, I was informed last night that burglary has spiked up again and the Church Road area has one of the largest crime rates in Brent at the sub-ward level.
Given the lack of resources being afforded to our local police, I will ensure that ward working money is given to crime initiatives as I have done in previous years. The doubling of Ward Working funding will go a long way to help me, my remaining co-Councillor and the Dudden Hill Safer Neighbourhood Team address specific crime and anti-social behavioural issues in Dudden Hill.
Last week, Dudden Hill lost yet another dedicated Police Community Support Officer. There is no plan to replace Community Support Officers in Brent. Dudden Hill are set to lose another in the next few months, meaning that in total, we will be down to three Safer Neighbourhood Team members working the whole ward.
This will mean that Dudden Hill has one Sergeant, one PC and one PCSO, when we should have one Sergeant, two PCs and three PCSOs. This means that Dudden Hill has lost 6,240 hours worth of frontline policing because of Tory Liberal cuts.
Dudden Hill Labour Councillors are working together to combat the challenges we both face and working in partnership, doing more with less for our residents.
Labour’s candidate for the London Mayoral election, Ken Livingstone has pledged to reverse police cuts in London – LINK
Despite the rank hypocrisy highlighted by the Political Scrapbook here (LINK), which describes how David Cameron profited £84,000 from a “binge drinking” bar chain, The Prime Minister is right to raise the issue of binge drinking.
Although the issue in Dudden Hill ward is in a slightly different context compared to what David Cameron is talking about, some of the issues are experienced in my ward, particularly in the Neasden area.
The Government talk of the soaring costs to the NHS because of excessive drinking. In Neasden, street drinking has an impact on the Council’s resources as people are drinking and throwing cans away on the streets rather than recycling.
In addition, individuals off their heads on alcohol are taking part in anti-social behaviour in surrounding streets and can appear intimidating hanging around in groups in front of people’s houses.
The additional time that the Police have to spend in these hotspot drinking areas is also having a drain on Police resources. In Neasden, I am working with Sergeant Matthew Howard and the Safer Neighbourhood Team along with the Neasden Action Group. Last week I also took the opportunity to raise it with Brent Borough Commander Matthew Gardner.
The Council also has a role to play through licensing. Alcohol is too readily available. It does not help that one in four premises in the Neasden shopping centre sells alcohol; and in some cases, as cheap as £1 a 500ml can of beer.
At the same time, there are underlying issues of jobs and unemployment that have to be addressed on a national scale.
It was great to have the opportunity to ask questions to Brent’s Borough Commander Matt Gardner last night at Brent Town Hall.
I took the opportunity firstly to thank him for the community reassurance role he played after the tragic fire on Sonia Gardens in my ward last year.
Some of the challenges that the Police are facing in Brent are profound but they are determined as are the Council in delivering the best for our residents despite the challenges we have with resources. Our job is to get on with what we have.
Last night it was revealed that Brent has the largest ‘success rate’ in London when it comes to stop and search. The police are adopting an intelligence based approach to stop and search targeting hotspot crime areas.
They are doing a lot more cross border work which is crucial in areas that neighbour other Boroughs.
We are already 6 sergeants down. Numbers should be ok for PCs. After next week there will be 35 PCSOs in Brent. Based on a formula which recommends that amount that a Borough should have in order to effectively police the streets, Brent should have 75 PCSOs. There is no recruitment drive for PCSOs. When asked what the Borough Commander would do about the recruitment of PCSOs, he honestly said there’s nothing he can do and that he’ll continue to do his job and manage to effectively police Brent with the resources he has.
He admitted that there will have to be a review into what the Police do and that some things they may just have to stop doing. He addressed the perception that we will be short of police in Brent over the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We will actually get more resources in terms of police officer numbers because we are an Olympic Borough with the Wembley National Stadium and Wembley Arena hosting sporting events.
The Borough Commander said that 84% of his budget is spent on wages and given that there is a 20% to the Brent police budget, it’s not rocket science to see that there are challenges. He drew comparisons to the cuts that Brent Council is making to libraries and said that the Police may have to look into the future of Willesden Police station and whether they can afford to have it. There’s only so much that can be saved from cutting back from buying paper clips.
When I asked whether frontline staff were spending time doing back office functions such as administrative tasks, the Borough Commander replied “not yet”, but that he could see it possibly happening in the future, which is why the Police had to look at what they do.
The challenges that the Police and the Council are facing means that there will be greater partnership and pooling of resources between the two.