Camden’s top policeman says some officers are ‘appalling’ at jobs

Acting borough commander Supt Richard Tucker addresses the public meeting at St Stephen's. Picture:

Acting borough commander Supt Richard Tucker addresses the public meeting at St Stephen's. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Camden’s top police officer has apologised for letting people down in Hampstead – as he admitted some members of the force are “appalling” at their jobs.

Acting borough commander Richard Tucker spoke candidly at a public meeting which was filmed by a BBC crew for a major documentary due to air next year.

The meeting on Sunday was the second to be held at St Stephen’s, in Haverstock Hill, in four months following a spate of “ultra-violent” robberies by hammer-wielding thugs on mopeds.

It began with crime victims making a litany of accusations about Camden officers mishandling cases. However, Det Supt Tucker seemed to win over the initially angry crowd with his honesty.

“We’re an organisation of 49,000 or 50,000 people and some of those people are amazing, and some of them are appalling,” he said.

“As a detective I sit here and I cringe when I hear some of the stories you say. I can’t understand someone that goes into public service, because that’s what the police is, and doesn’t serve the public.

“There are many reasons for these stories, but for every one of your stories, there’s a good story.

Most Read

“You’ve got to trust us on that. We do drop the ball, we aren’t perfect, but there are really good stories out there.”

Det Supt Tucker, who is acting borough commander while Ch Supt Ben-Julian Harrington covers a more senior role, noted that the Met has faced “hard-hitting” cuts of £500million at a time of rising demand for its “services” driven in part by population growth.

He added: “I apologise for the way we’ve let some of you down, I really do.”

He was replying to a string of complaints including one from a resident who was allegedly told by an unhelpful officer that her burglary was not his fault – it was prime minister David Cameron’s.

Others told of detectives failing to recover CCTV recordings or speak to witnesses and railed against general poor communication with victims.

However, the mood gradually improved and was far more cordial than the previous gathering, when victims of violence had confronted police with emotional tales of their trauma.

They were especially angered in June when officers tried to play down the scale of the crime wave that led to the unprecedented meeting being called, which many blamed on last summer’s closure of Hampstead police station, in Rosslyn Hill.

On Sunday, Insp Howard Hornby, head of neighbourhood policing in north Camden, said he has made a raft of changes to move officers away from desks.

Frognal and Fitzjohns Safer Neighbourhoods Panel chairman Jessica Learmond-Criqui, who organised both meetings, said things have “definitely improved” though “there is still a long way to go”.

She said: “The borough commander was apologetic and promised to follow up each and every concern. We have not had an instance of ultra-violent crime in Hampstead since the last meeting which demonstrates that the deterrent of visible policing is highly effective in an area like ours.”