SIR IAN BLAIR: Safer Neighbourhood teams are transforming policing
Londoners now have a unique opportunity to play an active role in making their neighbourhoods safer says Sir Ian Blair, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service. The rollout of Safer Neighbourhoods teams across London is transforming the way the M
Londoners now have a unique opportunity to play an active role in making their neighbourhoods safer says Sir Ian Blair, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.
The rollout of Safer Neighbourhoods teams across London is transforming the way the Met delivers local policing. Every single ward now has its own dedicated team of police and community support officers committed to finding practical and lasting solutions to the types of local crime and anti social behaviour that impact on local residents and businesses.
To achieve this the Met needs to engage with the public in a far more local manner and develop real two-way communication with the people who know most about what is happening in their neighbourhoods.
Direct and effective communication and consultation is absolutely key to the success of the Safer Neighbourhoods programme and we're determined to try and reach as many people as possible. The results in recent months (April to December figures) speak for themselves - there have been more than 9,500 pre-planned meetings in wards across London attended by more than 140,000 people together with over a thousand street briefings and 1,200 tabletop exercises to identify local problems.
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In recent weeks most households will have received a leaflet from their local team detailing their activities and, more importantly, explaining how you can get involved with the work they are doing. I want to use this article to reinforce that with a personal message to everyone who cares about their local environment and who wants to play a part in improving it: get involved. If you get to know your local team, either by attending the meetings they organise or, if your prefer, by speaking to them or e-mailing them privately, you can help identify what needs to be done to create lasting solutions to local problems.
I also want to take this opportunity to reassure communities that your Safer Neighbourhood team is just that - YOURS. One of the reasons why I believe previous community policing initiatives have not been successful in the longer term is because of what we call the 'abstraction' of officers. By this we mean taking officers away from their local beat to carry out other duties such as policing football matches or demonstrations, often in other parts of London. From the outset, we were determined that this wouldn't happen with ward-based Safer Neighbourhoods teams and, unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as a terrorist attack or other major incident, your team will not be called away from your neighbourhood.
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It's also important to make sure the public are aware that Safer Neighbourhoods teams are not there to replace the Met's 999 service. Response teams, including armed ones when needed, remain on standby to attend emergency incidents around the clock, just as local or specialist squads of detectives are brought in to investigate serious crime.
Safer Neighbourhoods teams are targeted against 'quality of life' criminality and antisocial behaviour and they are proving increasingly effective. Latest figures (April to December) show that the teams closed 287 crack houses, carried out more than 5,400 home visits to the families of antisocial behaviour offenders and made 13,551 arrests.
Londoners pay a lot for policing and when these results are looked at alongside the Met's overall improvements in reducing crime - 2006 was the fourth consecutive year that total crime in London fell (60,000 fewer offences than 2005) and more crimes than ever before are being solved - I hope you will agree that the investment is paying off and trends are going in the right direction.
Of course there will be challenging times ahead, not least the continuing threat our city faces from terrorists, but the vast majority of citizens have a vested interest in making our communities safer. What's new is that Londoners now have the opportunity to engage with officers at a truly local level, help shape ward policing priorities and make a difference to what is happening in their own neighbourhoods.'
For more information about Safer Neighbourhoods please visit www.met.police.uk/saferneighbourhoods