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Search for seventh sergeant in Kentish Town

PUBLISHED: 13:07 16 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:06 07 September 2010

Ben McPartland CALLS have been made to change recruitment guidelines for community police teams, after a Kentish Town ward was left looking for its seventh sergeant in four years. Cantelowes Safer Neighbourhoods Team (SNT) is looking for a new leader afte

Ben McPartland

CALLS have been made to change recruitment guidelines for community police teams, after a Kentish Town ward was left looking for its seventh sergeant in four years.

Cantelowes Safer Neighbourhoods Team (SNT) is looking for a new leader after Sgt Amar Saggar announced she was stepping down to take a new job in the borough of Westminster.

Although she was at the helm for less than a year and a half, Sgt Saggar was credited by residents with turning the area around.

Only last week she oversaw her final operation in charge aimed at tackling the growing problem of prostitution on her streets.

During the three-day crackdown, which involved undercover female officers from the Met's clubs and vice unit, 11 men were arrested and charged with curb crawling after being caught approaching prostitutes around the Agar Grove area.

Merik Apak, who chairs the team's citizens' panel, wants an end to the revolving door policy which has seen seven different officers, including stand in sergeants lead the team since it was formed in 2005.

"I think it should be different and it can be different because Kentish Town ward has had the same sergeant since they were formed," said Mr Apak.

"There is all this talk about sergeants wanting to move on and further their career, but there are sergeants out there who are not in it for promoting their careers or using safer neighbourhoods as a stepping stone and those are the ones we need to look for.

"When the police advertise the post, they need to keep that in mind.

"They have not taken on board what I have been saying for the last three years.

"They should actively look for sergeants who are prepared to show commitment to the post for at least four years."

Since Sgt Saggar has been in charge, her team has helped to bring down a burglary rate which last year was labelled the worst in London. The team has also battled against anti-social behaviour and drug dealing and recently the rise of prostitution, which has been creeping up from the King's Cross area.

Speaking about last week's operation she said: "It was an undoubted success .

"This issue has been a priority for our team since March after we received a number of complaints from residents.

"I have not any calls since we did the operation."

Mr Apak said: "The sergeant has been fantastic. I think what makes the difference is when you get a really dedicated and caring sergeant.

"She accepted that the role of Safer Neighbourhoods is dealing closely with the public."

Chief Inspector Louis Smith, in charge of Safer Neighbourhoods for Camden borough, said: "Continuity is an essential part of the role of Safer Neighbourhood teams. The current target of two years in the role provides that.

"My aim is to achieve a balance between the enthusiasm and fresh ideas inherent in someone taking on a new role and the experience of someone who knows the job.

"Setting a minimum tenure of four years would put off many applicants, making it harder to fill what should be one of the most highly sought after jobs for uniform sergeants.


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