The following notes were passed to us by Hilary Ivory, Secretary of the Police Liaison Group from the recent Police Liaison Group Public Meeting, held on 25 October 2006 at All Hallows Church Hall.

Police Liaison Group Public Meeting All Hallows Church Hall, Whitton Road, Twickenham 25 October 2006

‘Fear of Crime’ speech

After introductions, Anne Lawtey, Head of the LBRT Community Safety Partnership Team, gave an excellent speech on fear of crime. Questions focused on graffiti. We learned that…

  • The Council removes graffiti swiftly, because research shows that graffiti attracts yet more ‘artistic’ offerings. It is also photographed and shown in schools, where pupils help police identify tags.
  • Test purchasers are sent to purchase spray paint, enabling police to determine who is selling it to offenders. Once caught, offenders go through the Youth Justice system, which includes assessment of family circumstances, parenting courses, treatment for substance abuse where necessary, etc.
  • Reference Orders can be imposed: young offenders sit before a panel that imposes a punishment designed to make the offender face up to his misdemeanour.
  • Recidivism is low: a final warning is given for re-offending, after which it’s court and sentencing.

Police update

Sergeant Malik briefly explained the function of the Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) for the benefit of newcomers, and then reported on how issues raised at the first public meeting on 19 July had been addressed.

  • Grimwood Park youths used to congregate here, causing a disturbance throughout the night. The SNT and the Council’s Roger Leach have had a gate installed, since which the SNT has had no calls.
  • Moormead Park also a magnet for noisy youths, now has CCTV overlooking the playground: images of graffiti-sprayers recently captured on CCTV footage now await circulation in the local press. Increased SNT patrols, police inspections, and confiscation of cannabis and alcohol have also reduced police call-outs. Residents in Lancaster Place who are still experiencing problems over at the side of the park nearest to them will be contacted by the SNT to arrange a street briefing as a first step towards developing solutions.
  • Tesco and under-age alcohol theft/sales the SNT met with Tesco’s manager to discuss the youths who hang around the bus shelter, mingling with train passengers going into the store, then stealing bottles from shelves just inside the shop entrance. A full-time security guard is not considered by Tesco to be necessary for a store this size, however, CCTV has been stepped up in-store. The SNT also asked the Council to reposition the bus stop further down the street, reducing cover for people loitering with intent to thieve, as well as enabling buses to stop more easily when delivery vehicles are off-loading on the same stretch of road: this has not proved possible.
  • Tesco ATM machine fraud in response to the fitting of false fascia on three occasions to the ATM outside Tesco, a CCTV camera has been installed directly above it, as well as an anti-skimming device that electrically stops the machine from processing illegal transactions.
  • Environmental Visual Audits (EVAs) Sgt Malik also reported on the additional duties carried out by the SNT: as well as patrols, the SNT also addresses issues on a street-by-street basis. For example, poor lighting, dense vegetation, existing criminal damage - anything that makes it possible for criminal activity to take place - are corrected and/or removed.

Questions to the police

Questions from the floor covered: begging; people sleeping in vehicles in St Margarets; the procedure for reporting burglaries; disturbance in Moormead Park; and Dispersal Zones.

Q Begging outside Tesco: man with three large dogs seen regularly begging outside Tesco. Can police move him on? A He’s no longer begging - is now selling the Big Issue, plus dogs are well behaved: he cannot be moved on as long as he is abiding by the rules.

Q Men are sleeping in vehicles along St Peter’s Road. A SNT will look into this and report back at next meeting.

Q There is a perception that domestic burglary receives low-level priority. Once reported, what happens? A Used to be a four- or five-hour wait following a phone report; but new protocol has speeded up the process. Police now take a phone report, and a Scenes of Crime officer is assigned to the case. Also, new DNA kit currently being tested: important possessions can be marked with a ‘DNA’ marker enabling tracking of stolen items.

Q One resident backing onto the Crane River on the side opposite Moormead Park expressed disappointment with response from the police to complaints about unsocial behaviour in the playground, claiming that some 85% of calls went unanswered. A Although SNT not on duty 24/7, the shift system is designed to be flexible in order to meet local requirements: if disturbances are occurring primarily at 3am, then SNT will arrange foot patrols at that time. The telephone system works as follows:

Q Where do youths go when moved on? Doesn’t it move the problem elsewhere? What are Dispersal Zones - can there be more of them? A Dispersal Zones are officially designated no-go areas for youths. Only two in the borough - Twickenham High Street and Richmond High Street - only put in place under extreme circumstances.

Policing priorities

No change since the meeting on 19 July: anti-social behaviour; burglary; motor vehicle crime; criminal damage.