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Police chief admits Camden’s officers not solving enough crimes

08:00 26 May 2014

Ch Supt Ben-Julian

Ch Supt Ben-Julian "BJ" Harrington. Picture: Yui Mok/PA

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Camden’s leading policeman has hailed a significant drop in recorded crime while admitting that his officers need to solve more cases.

Selected end-of-year crime figures for Camden

TYPE – 2013/14 – 2012/13

Total crimes: 28,324 – 32,484

Murder: 1 – 3

Violence against

the person: 4,650 – 4,956

Rape: 125 – 89

Robbery: 948 – 1,040

Burglary: 3,100 – 2,957

Gun crime: 33 – 38

Racist and religious

hate crime: 377 – 490

Homophobic crime: 70 – 57

Ch Supt Ben-Julian Harrington was speaking to the Ham&High after Scotland Yard published end-of-year figures for 2013/14 – a period which saw a major shake-up of the force and the closure of one of Camden’s police stations.

The borough commander highlighted the overall crime reduction of 13 per cent and a 6pc fall in violent offences.

He said: “There have been some notable successes – reductions in violence and overall crime – and we’re catching more people.

“There’s a real focus on those crimes which are most common and which impact and harm the most vulnerable.”

Mr Harrington – who is marking a year in the job, having started last May – admitted that detection rates were “not good enough”.

Only about 21 per cent of the 28,324 offences in Camden led to a charge, caution or other action, though the figure is up from 19 per cent last year.

“We have one of the highest detection rates in London but it’s never good enough,” he said.

“We solve about a fifth of burglaries but we acknowledge that’s not good enough and it still remains a priority.

“We solve about a third of violent crime. Again, that’s not good enough, but it’s something we’re pushing to improve all the time.”

The annual figures are the first to be published since century-old Hampstead police station in Rosslyn Hill was closed last June.

They also follow controversial changes to neighbourhood policing teams, which came in on the same day and mean fewer police are dedicated to individual wards.

The borough has been broken up into three “sectors” – north, central and south – with many officers who were previously assigned to a single ward now working across these larger areas.

Mr Harrington cited the reduction in thefts at music concerts in Camden Town as other good news.

“We were having a huge problem with organised gangs going to high-profile events, but we have been able to halve the number of thefts at gigs,” he said.

This contributed to 1,000 fewer phones being stolen, which was “the biggest success story”, while there was a 13 per cent drop in theft overall.

He also saw positives in a rise in reports of rape – up 40 per cent from 89 cases in the previous 12 months to 125 – and domestic violence, up five per cent.

These crimes are often under-reported and the increases mean more people are willing to come forward, he said.

While home burglary fell slightly, non-residential burglary jumped by 12 per cent, up from 1,458 to 1,626, which is a “real challenge”.

Mr Harrington added: “The confidence of local people in policing is rising as reported in independently conducted surveys, and complaints against Camden police have reduced.

“However, I am not happy with even one dissatisfied victim and we will continue to improve the service we offer in Camden.”

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