This weekends monthly Councillor Advice surgery (Saturday 5th August) will be a joint surgery with the Dudden Hill Police Team. If you have any local crime or Council related issues, we will be at the Pavilion Cafe at Gladstone Park from 11am to 12.30pm. Appointments are not required.
A joined-up operation between Brent Council, the Police, Veolia and Ashford Place, the homeless charity in Cricklewood, will see the first night operation taking place at Gladstone Park from tonight. The aim of the operation is to decrease anti-social behaviour and remove any tents and structures that may be up in the park. There has been a reported increase of people sleeping in the park using tents and other bedding and this contravenes park bye-laws.
The majority of those sleeping in the parks have come from Romania to seek work in the UK and send money home. We understand they are trying to avoid accommodation costs by sleeping in the park. Whilst sympathetic to these individuals, Brent Council’s primary concern is the safety of its residents.
Signs are already up at the park in both English and in Romanian.
Brent Council has been made aware that many of these people are also seeking employment at the informal labour market in Chichele Road, Cricklewood. The Metropolitan Police have implemented a dispersal zone to deal with this problem, and any employers hiring staff this way will be questioned by the Police. We would also discourage residents from hiring them for casual labour, as we believe this is exacerbating the problem in the parks. If you are not sure of someone’s status, ask for an NI number when hiring them, so you can be sure they have a residential address and paying taxes in the UK.
Brent Council is also working with the HMRC and UKBA to establish the immigration status of these sleepers.
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.
The hashtag #TheGoveBoat is trending on Twitter as Secretary of State for Education Rt Hon Michael Gove MP has written a plea to his fellow Tory Liberal Government Ministers to be prepared to use taxpayer’s money to pay for a new yacht for the Queen.
The Guardian mentions that “Various efforts have been made to propose a new royal yacht, but have been rejected on the grounds of cost, estimated in 1997 at £60m.” (LINK TO GUARDIAN ARTICLE)
It is totally unacceptable to be spending £60m on a royal yacht while at the same time cutting Brent’s budget by £104 million and making unprecedented cuts to Brent NHS and Brent’s Police.
Brent Metropolitan Police are concerned about the rising number of gold chain thefts in the borough.
Gold prices are currently higher than ever before, with a number of establishments advertising cash for gold. This has made gold more attractive to thieves than ever.
Please be mindful of this and keep your jewellery secure to prevent opportunities for thieves to operate. Keep expensive jewellery out of view when walking around the borough. Some thieves have snatched gold chains from around the necks of female victims whilst walking along the street or shopping for example.
Burglaries of gold jewellery also tend to increase during the summer months as people go away on holidays. Please consider strengthening your home security arrangements should you store any jewellery at home.
Ensure you have photographs of your valuable pieces to help police track any stolen items in the event of a theft.