‘Everything isn't fine': Police challenged over staff retention

Awale Olad says he has seen eight different borough commanders in 12 years

Tuesday, 5th July — By Richard Osley

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Awale Olad speaking at last night’s meeting (Monday)

POLICE chiefs have been urged to stop chopping and changing its team in Camden – and start embedding officers in communities.

Labour councillor Awale Olad, the chair of the council’s culture and environment scrutiny committee, challenged two of the local force’s key figures on staff retention at last night’s full council meeting.

“Once a year, the borough commander comes up to our committee and we challenge him on a lot of things and he – I say ‘he’, because it’s almost always a ‘he’ – will often tell us ‘everything is fine, don’t worry about it, we’re cracking on with it’,” said Cllr Olad.

“But everything isn’t fine. In the last 12 years I have been a councillor, we’ve had eight different borough commanders. In my ward alone, there have been nine different sergeants. That indicates that there’s an issue with the way community policing is currently being facilitated. It continues to concern me – and I think we need to go back to community policing.”

In recent times, Camden and neighbouring Islington have shared a borough commander with Chief Superintendent Andy Carter appointed last year to replace the outgoing Raj Kohli. Ch. Supt Carter appeared at the Town Hall via video link while Superintendent Jack Rowlands answered questions from councillors in the chamber.

Cllr Olad, who represents Holborn and Covent Garden, said: “I challenge the new borough commander, and I hope he continues to be our borough commander when we challenge them again in a year’s time, to bring back community policing and start embedding police officers and PCSOs back in the community.”

Supt Rowlands said: “I don’t think we’d ever say ‘everything is fine’. We both feel we can continue to improve, both in Camden and Islington, our response to policing. In terms of consistency and community police: I completely agree. I want to be here for as long as I possibly can. I’ve given everyone at least a two year commitment.”

Supt Jack Rowlands

He added: “I was a sergeant for my ward in Brixton for five years and I absolutely believe that consistency is needed. So as someone who looks after neighbourhood policing in Camden, I want to give you my assurance that I will retain as many of my sergeants as possible, but with the development they need to continue their careers as well as serving the public of Camden.”

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