Comment

Making communities safer

Anne Clarke AM on the policy that has been her top priority during 2023

Anne Clarke - member of the London Assembly representing Barnet and Camden.
Anne Clarke AM – (Credit – GLA)

Community safety has been my top priority at the London Assembly in 2023 – and I am pleased to see the Metropolitan Police doing more across Barnet to keep our area safe.

The excellent ‘Clear, Hold, Build’ programme, being run in Grahame Park, Colindale, is helping our community become safer – and will keep it that way in the long term.

‘Clear, Hold, Build’ is a multi-agency partnership tactic, designed by the Home Office and endorsed by the Policing Inspectorate, to help areas affected by crime.

The tactic has three parts: Clear, which sees police pursue gang members; Hold, where police maintain a grip on the area to prevent other criminal groups from taking control; and Build, which works to help the community become less susceptible to the draw of organised crime groups.

I’ve seen for myself how the Clear, Hold, Build initiative in Grahame Park has been well received by residents, who can now let their children out to play safely again. We need to see more of the Met reducing crime and rebuilding the trust and confidence in policing that is sorely needed.

I am proud of the excellent work between police, who are working with Barnet Council and residents of the estate to identify issues, make arrests and clear it of ‘serial trouble makers’. This has led to 160 arrests in just two months. 

The police have managed to crack down on antisocial behaviour and drug supply over a very short period. Among the 160 arrests, police say offences included 34 ‘higher harm offences’ such as murder, rape or GBH, 58 drug supply, 36 of which related to Class A drugs, and 23 weapons offences, including knives and firearms.

The tactic focuses on where the most problems are. The Met’s intelligence-led, precision policing with local government is targeting those who are causing the most problems for the community. This has been managed through an increased use of foot patrols and plain-clothes officers on bikes, and by issuing closure orders on specific flats. 

This bold action follows Sadiq Khan’s pledge to boost neighbourhood policing across the capital and “more bobbies on the beat” through the “A New Met for London” plan. The “on the beat” approach gives offices a specific patch to oversee, giving them closer relationships with the community, has suffered due to over a decade of austerity. Government cuts have consequences and we have seen the damage this can cause in our public services such as the Met.

The Net Met for London plan’s first priority, “Community-crime fighting”, focuses on “working with Londoners to keep them safe.”  The Met will make communities the bedrock of how it polices and tackles neighbourhood crime, anti-social behaviour and serious violence.

In Barnet, this will mean every borough and every ward having its own team of officers and PCSOs. It also means involving Londoners in how their areas are policed – and listening to those who’ve had their trust in policing damaged.

That means that we’ll see more attention given to protecting women and children from violence and going after predatory men who commit those crimes. The police will have to do more for Black, ethnic minority and LGBT+ communities and for disabled Londoners. We’ve seen a recent spike in hate crimes across London – and policing these crimes will only be effective if police and have respectful relationships with the victims.

Developing this new strategy is making a meaningful difference and it will put more police into the teams who work with victims of crime, ensuring they can provide the right care and better support those who’ve suffered.

This is exactly the right approach being taken to restore trust in the police and make our communities safer.

Anne Clarke is the London assembly member for Barnet and Camden, a councillor for Cricklewood ward and Barnet Council’s cabinet member for community wealth building. 

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