This is Barbara. She is with the Revd Anna Poulson at St John’s Church in Southall. Barbara was a repeat victim of burglary and became frightened to leave her home. She wasn’t able to go to church.
That was when Sergeant Justin Petty got involved. He called in Sergeant Guy Rooney and his team from Norwood Green SNT. They provided all the crime prevention advice and assistance they could, but Barbara still lacked the confidence to go out.
The team had done all that could be reasonably expected of them. They’d met their targets, done the prevention work, set an investigation in motion.
They still wanted to help Barbara. She wasn’t going to regain her confidence on her own. So they took simple steps to make things better – they drove Barbara to church and looked after her home for her whilst she was away.
This is an example of the importance of local policing. It doesn’t meet targets or save money. It does something far more important – it makes Barbara feel safe again.
There is a lot more to police work than arresting criminals. This is especially the case in the world of Safer Neighborhoods. We don’t shy away from taking people into custody – that is a key role for any police officer – but we have a long-term view as well.
What led this person into crime? What other options did they have? What made them confident to commit the offence? Was it the location, the area? People he associates with?
Communities have a right to go about their day-to-day business without fear of becoming a victim of crime. Although crime is falling year on year, I am very aware that people’s fears are not based on raw statistics. If people believe they might be burgled, if they believe their children might get bullied on their way home from school, if they cross the road to avoid a group of young men in hooded tops, the people have a fear of crime. The police have a duty to reduce this fear of crime, to make neighbourhoods safer.
The police do not work in isolation. We cannot reduce the fear of crime without the support of local people. Open and honest communication is the key. To prevent misunderstanding we need people to have the confidence to speak to us, the confidence to pick up the phone, to send an e-mail, to come to our meetings and ask the questions they want us to answer.
Direct and open communication is the key to long-term problem solving for us. Working with the community allows us to gain trust, to show we are approachable and trustworthy. This is why the work of Safer Neighbourhoods Teams is so key to addressing the long term issues that effect us all. If we can intervene and deter crime at an early stage, we can make a difference to quality of life. We can work with people at risk of crime to make sure they have all the support they need, we can work with those likely to fall into criminality and offer them other pathways. We work with the community and for the community.
It all starts with a cup of tea.
On Friday we visited Shree Ram Mandir in King Street Southall as the guests of Mr Umesh Sharma. This was as part of our ongoing project to engage more with our faith communities. We will be holding regular police surgeries in faith premises across Southall so visitors can have a chat with their local police and raise any concerns they may have.
People might be a bit put off by our traditional methods of contact. Southall Police Station isn’t the most inviting place, despite the recent splash of paint. The Met has a big online presence, and you can report crime that way, but the internet isn’t for everyone. Some people don’t like to use the phone either. It’s our job to support the community so we are coming to you!
We have also held these events at Ealing Hospital, and will be doing so again. We had a separate event in the outpatients ward at St Bernard’s Hospital which helps people with mental health issues. I’m pretty confident that was the first event of its kind! It is important to remember that people with mental health issues are just as entitled to engage with their police service as anyone else.
The only stumbling block is the name police surgeries – Not the best, and a bit confusing within a hospital. Thinking caps are on….
I like to learn something new everyday – Mr Sharma told me that the Shree Ram Mandir is the oldest Hindu Temple in London, dating back to the late sixties. Good fact. They will be holding their biggest event on Sunday 14th August, Shree Krishan Janamashtmi. We will be there supporting the event with our good friends from the Met Police Hindu Association.
My name is Paul Byrne – I have the honour of being in charge of Southall Local Policing Teams.
Southall is part of the London Borough of Ealing in west London. It is one of the most vibrant parts of the capital, home to a diverse community drawn from all corners of the globe. Many languages are spoken, and many religions followed.
I want people who live in Southall to feel able to go about their day to day business without fear of crime. This goes for the many visitors we have – Those who come to work, those who come to shop. I can only achieve this with the support of the community. This blog has been set up to increase communication and to open dialogue with all interested parties.
I hope this blog will provide some insight into policing Southall and beyond. Please feel free to contribute!
Information about Southall Police can be found here
Report crime online here