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Crime & Policing

April 16, 2019

I am very aware that the recent sequence of murders in Pinner and South Harrow, and a spike in burglaries “aggravated” by the threat of violence, has deeply unsettled many residents across Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner.  It comes, of course, against a background of increased knife crime across London, which is a source of great worry – not least for parents.

The concern is all the more deeper because this is not normal.  The statistics show these are some of the safest wards in London.  It is part of the reason why people choose to live here.  Yes, we have had spikes in burglaries before, and the police have got on top of them.  Yes, aggravated burglaries represents a relatively small percentage of the total number of burglaries, but the violence and brazen nature of it is scaring people.

Another concern I hear is about the response of the police to burglary.  A number of constituents have been unimpressed by the follow-up, especially when they have been able to present the police with some potential evidence, for example in the form of CCTV.  I know from fellow MPs that this is a concern across London.

Let me summarise what I have done, and then let you know about a public meeting that may be of interest to you:

1.  I have taken local concerns about aggravated burglary and the police response to the top of the Metropolitan Police in conversations with Commissioner Cressida Dick; Assistant Commissioner Stephen House and Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons, the lead for Local Policing. The issue is very much on their radar screen.

2.  I have met with Commander Amanda Pearson, who reports to DAC Mark Simmons, to discuss the operational response to burglary, including aggravated.  It is clear that the Met are having to rethink their approach in terms of contact with the public and supervising the quality of investigations.

3.  I have been in very regular contact with Chief Superintendent Sara Leach who commands the North West Borough Command Unit (BCU), which covers Pinner.  Together we met a group of Pinner residents that are especially concerned about aggravated burglary.

4.  I have met with Superintendent Duncan Slade, who leads on burglary and aggravated in the West BCU (which covers Ruislip and Northwood), to discuss the operational response. 

5.  I have met with Ickenham Neighbourhood Watch, who are generally recognised to be one of the most effective neighbourhood watch groups in London, to discuss their frustrations and learn from their experience, not least in using OWL – the Online watch link which allows police and residents to exchange two way information in a very efficient way – which is not yet available in Harrow.

6.  I have met and will continue to meet local residents who are concerned.

This is apart from the work I do as Policing Minister to support the police and to help them end this terrible cycle of serious violence:

  • Between 2018/20, the Met Police will have received an additional £272 million of public investment, some of which they are using to recruit 300 additional officers.
  • In addition, the Met will receive a share of the additional £100m we have made available to police forces to specifically help their work to counter serious violence.  This will help support the team of 400 extra officers in London on the Serious Violence Task Force.  We are making it easier to authorise stop and search in designated areas, and have taken through Parliament new legislation that will make it even harder to buy and possess the most dangerous weapons.
  • We have made over £200m available for community based prevention work to divert young people away from crime and violence.

More details of our work on serious violence can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/serious-violence-strategy.

From these conversations, I have drawn the following:

1.  Despite being stretched, the police are giving the issue the priority it requires.  The West and North West BCUs have slightly different operating models but both have significant resources dedicated to “high harm” crime, including aggravated burglary, and both are able to bid for more “central assets” to help with work in targeted areas.

2.  North West London represents a significant percentage of total aggravated burglary and appears to be an attractive target – relatively affluent and with relatively easy access to fast road networks.  Given that this criminal activity crosses borders, it is imperative that police forces work well together.  This appears to be happening.

3.  The police and the community need to work together more effectively to make sure that this area becomes a much ‘harder’ target for criminals.  Community safety has always depended on that relationship working well.

4.  Residents are worried and need reassurance.  Police communication and engagement with the community has so far failed to reassure.

With the above in mind, I am convening a public meeting so that residents across the area can engage directly with the senior local police officers in both boroughs who are responsible for the operational response.  It will be an opportunity to ask direct questions; seek reassurance that the police are doing everything they can, and to discuss what more we can do together to help make the area safer.  At the request of residents, it has been structured as a constituency-wide meeting because a number of wards are affected and the criminals do not respect borough boundaries.

The meeting will be 7pm-8:15pm on Wednesday, 15 May, at Fairfield Hall, Windsor Close, Northwood, HA6 1PD.  The police representatives will be led by Superintendent Claire Clark from North West BCU, and by Superintendent Duncan Slade from West BCU.  It is anticipated that officers from the Safer Neighbourhoods Teams will be in attendance.  Additionally, all ward councillors will be invited.

It would be helpful to know if you were intending to attend – and please do feel free to submit any specific questions in advance.  You can contact me at: nick.hurd.mp@parliament.uk.

Brexit Statement 02/04/2019

April 2, 2019

There were some further “indicative“ votes on Monday, as Parliament tried to find out if there was a majority in favour of an alternative to the PM’s Agreement already negotiated with the EU.

After two attempts, there is still no majority for an alternative, although the proposal for us to enter into a customs union with the EU came close.

I looked at the so-called “Soft Brexit” alternatives closely because they offer the “smooth and orderly“ Brexit I want.  However, I concluded that they were worse for this country than the agreement secured by the PM.  The Customs Union proposal would be more restrictive in terms of our ability to shape our own trade policy.  The so-called Common Market 2.0 would not allow us to set our own immigration policy.  Both were inconsistent with the manifesto I stood on at the last Election.  So I could not vote for them.  However, I consider them both a better alternative to No Deal, and so was reluctant to vote against them.  I abstained on both.

There was another vote on the proposal that any agreement should be subject to a “confirmatory referendum.”  I have always opposed the idea of a second referendum, but I can see a growing argument if Parliament remains gridlocked, or heads off in a different direction from the election manifestos.  Accordingly, I abstained.

I voted against revoking Article 50 and the “let’s call the whole thing off“ brigade.

What am I for?  Leaving the EU in a smooth and orderly way that minimises risk to jobs and security.  I believe even more strongly now that the Agreement already negotiated is the least bad option and I will continue to support it.  I am opposed to leaving with no deal.  I hope that is clear, even if you disagree with it.

As I write, Cabinet is sitting to try and work out a path through what is now clearly a political crisis.  I will do my best to keep you updated.  if you would like to speak to me personally, please let me know.

If you have Brexit fatigue, and would like to avoid any more emails from me on the subject, please also let me know.

Brexit Statement 28/03/2019

March 28, 2019

I am well aware that the struggle in our divided Parliament to find a Brexit solution for a divided nation is generating widespread dismay and increasing anger.

The basic position of your MP has not changed. I voted Remain, like the constituency, but I believe we should respect the result of the 2016 referendum. I stood for election on a manifesto that committed to a smooth and orderly Brexit. I want to deliver for the 52% but I also want to move forward on a basis that is acceptable to the 48% – one that takes the least risk with British jobs and security, and allows us to retain good relations with our EU partners. So I support the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration that has been agreed with the EU because I see it as a reasonable compromise – and the least unfavourable option on the table for delivering Brexit.

It has been defeated heavily twice. If it comes back, I will support it again. It is clear that more and more MPs are of the same mind as they look at the alternatives.

On Wednesday, Parliament controversially took control of the proceedings and we had so called “indicative” votes on a number of alternative proposals put forward by MPs. The intention is to try and identify what might command a majority in Parliament.

Here is how I voted in what might be the first round of votes:

I voted against Exiting the EU with No Deal. I have always made clear that I see that as the worst outcome for the country. I was against “taking it off the negotiating table,” but it is clear that Parliament will not support it.

I voted against or abstained on a number of alternative plans, either because I disagreed with them or because they are inconsistent with the manifesto I stood on in the last General Election. I consider all of them to be worse than the deal that the PM is proposing.

I voted against revoking Article 50.

I abstained on the proposal that any deal should be approved by the people in a “confirmatory public vote.” I have been consistent in expressing my profound reservations about another public vote. My strong preference is to deliver on the first vote, which I believe the current agreement does. I continue to fear that another public vote will deepen already terrible division, without giving us certainty. However, I have also said that the longer that Parliament appears gridlocked and disconnected from the public, then the strength of the argument for a second vote grows. That argument gets stronger if Parliament requires a Government to take a new course, which has barely been debated, and which is not consistent with manifesto commitments. A General Election is the other option, and I do not think the country wants that. So I have reserved my judgement, not least to see the outcome of the next few days. To be clear my strong preference is to avoid a second vote. I want to see the gridlock In Parliament broken and MPs voting for a withdrawal agreement that delivers on the first referendum, is consistent with our manifesto, and which has been exhaustively debated in our representative Parliament.

The outcome of the indicative votes was no clear majority for any proposal. The proposal closest to a majority was for us to remain a member of the EU Customs Union. There was also growing support for a “confirmatory public vote.”

What happens next? Tomorrow is the deadline for securing the extension to May 22nd which the EU offered, and which now feels necessary to finalise the details of any deal. The Government will call a vote exclusively on the Withdrawal Agreement (and not the Political Declaration). If it is passed, it is believed that will secure the extension. If it fails, then the key date becomes April 12th.

I will vote for the Withdrawal Agreement.