A damning report in to the state of Metropolitan police says London ‘no longer’ has a functioning neighbourhood policing service.
In her review, Baroness Casey makes 16 recommendations, concluding that the Met is institutionally racist, sexist and homophobic and that the country’s largest police force requires a ‘complete overhaul’.
In another damaging indictment she says that Londoners have been ‘put last’ by their police service adding; “Far too many Londoners have now lost faith in policing to do that. Many Londoners, particularly Black Londoners, never had it to begin
with. I completely understand why they feel that way.”
The report outlines much of what Londoners here in Croydon and Thornton Heath
have experienced first hand, that frontline policing has been ‘deprioritised’.
After a stabbing in November a local newspaper reported that police had ‘no
authority’ with criminals allowed to ‘run rampant’ in Thornton Heath.
Baroness Casey identifies in her review that there is ‘less knowledge’ of local crime patterns and response teams are responding to ever increasing demands on their service. The result is longer response times to reports by the public.
She goes on to say there are now much ‘weaker connections to long established communities’ and that democratic borough structures and Londoners have become a ‘step further removed from their police service.’
Far from being ring-fenced as promised in the reorganisation, it has become a resource for backfilling other services like response teams. The number of Police Community Support Officers has also been drastically reduced.
Baroness Casey says: “Local policing has been fractured by the loss of skilled civilian staff,
especially crime analysts and support staff. Officers who should be on the streets of London are left to backfill some of these roles.”
The absence of neighbourhood policing was paramount in Thornton Heath during last summer when public spaces became virtual no go areas.
The Clocktower, Leisure Centre and Trumble Gardens became havens for anti social behaviour with groups drinking and taking drugs.
Worst still there were at least two reports of a couple having sex on benches outside
the leisure centre in broad daylight as children passed by to go swimming.
Parents also complained about a man indecently exposing himself on the High Street as well as anecdotes of a man walking around with his trousers down outside Tesco.
The conclusion to the summer of ASB in Thornton Heath was one group setting fire to a Clocktower after they dragged a mattress to the area in front of the historic landmark which was being used as an open air doss house.
Only when the community met with the Mayor Jason Perry to ask for the benches to be removed temporarily did the ASB, which had gone unchallenged, abate but its unclear what plans are in place for this summer?
Following a double stabbing on Woodville Road in November -the second double stabbing in the space of six months on the road – Croydon’s Local Democracy Reporter spoke with residents and businesses.
Local people spoke of how this behaviour had become the ‘new norm’ for Thornton Heath and the police had ‘no authority’ with criminals allowed to ‘run rampant’ in Thornton Heath.
Baroness Casey cites how a reorganisation moved 32 borough-based police commands to 12 units with some covering up to four boroughs.
The South Borough Command Unit covers Croydon, Bromley and Sutton with a combined population of almost one million people.
She concludes that those running Borough Command Units ‘do not have authority’ over their patch and are ‘not responsible or accountable’ for the actions of specialist teams like the Violent Crime Task Force and the Territorial Support Group.
Read Met Chief, Mark Rowley’s response in his letter to Baroness Casey
Read Baroness Casey’s Review here