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Meeting with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick CBE QPM

Crime & Policing Update 03/07/2019

I am very aware that the shock of a murder in Pinner and a spike in burglaries last year “aggravated” by the threat of violence, has deeply unsettled many residents across Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner. We are also seeing more evidence of flagrant drug dealing in parts of the constituency. All this very unwelcome criminal activity 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 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:-

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 up until now has not been available in Harrow.
6. I have met with the new CEO of Harrow Council and asked for consideration of making OWL available in Harrow.
7. I have met with Inspector Rob Bryan to discuss the issues of antisocial behaviour; drug dealing, and the neighbourhood response to burglary in Ruislip and Northwood.
8. I have met and will continue to meet local residents who are concerned.
9. I have convened a public meeting which allowed 250 residents to engage directly with the police superintendents that are leading the investigative response to burglary in both Hillingdon and Harrow.

This is apart from the work I do as Minister for Policing and London 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 is receiving an additional £21m this year to support the team of 300+ officers who are focused exclusively on knife crime in London as part of 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.
• In addition to support for the police we are making funds available to support community based prevention work to divert young people away from crime and violence. Organisations across London have already received £4m in grants and we are supporting the Mayor's Violence Reduction Unit with £7m of funding. A national fund of £200m is now opening its first round of funding to support early intervention work to reduce the risk of young people getting involved in serious violence.

More details of our work on serious violence can be found here:

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.

On a more positive note, I can see some signs of local progress

There has been some progress in recent weeks:

1. The latest data from Harrow shows that residential burglaries are well down from their peak in November 2018 (by almost half) and so far this year we have had two aggravated burglaries across the Pinner wards. 
2. The latest data from the Hillingdon Borough wards within the constituency indicate that burglaries have also fallen by almost 50% over the same period. From a ward average of over 10 burglaries a month down to 5. That is of course 5 burglaries too many, but it is an early indication that the police's intelligence led efforts are producing results.
3. The first automatic number-plate recognition (ANPR) cameras have been deployed in Harrow, which will enable police to identify and track vehicles involved in crime.
4. The Online Watch Link (OWL) communication system is being launched in Harrow later this year - this allows better two-way communication between police and residents, by both alerting residents and allowing for the gathering of police intelligence. 
5. Two members of travelling community were recently charged with 3 offences of aggravated burglary in the wider area, accounting for a significant number of the most serious burglary offences committed in the constituency.