Neighbourhood police ‘window dressing’ claim

Sergeant vows to 'think outside of the box'

Thursday, 26th August 2021 — By Harry Taylor


SAFER neighbourhood policing has become little more than “window dressing” for the Met, a community meeting has heard.

Susan West, who leads the Safer Neighbourhood Panel (SNP) for Hampstead Town, criticised cuts that had left NW3 with just one constable and one part-time PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) – down from two qualified officers a few years ago.

The ward shares its newly-appointed sergeant, Nicky O’Hara, with Highgate.

Speaking at the first meeting of the SNP since the pandemic began in March 2020, Ms West said: “I’ve got serious concerns about how the safer neighbourhoods model is going to work in the future.

“It has reached the point where it is nothing more than window dressing, [rather] than a real experienced team who are able to be present and problem-solve in the ward.”

Safer neighbourhood teams, which are assigned to a ward, can be seen out on patrol and working to reduce low-level crime.

Ms West added that part of the problem was the “carousel” training new officers receive, where they spend six months on rotation in different parts of the Met.

Some are unable to patrol unless accompanied by a senior officer, meaning they spend less time in the ward.

Superintendent Dominic Barnes told the New Journal that the shortfall may be down to vacancies, and that there were plans to restore the ward to two dedicated ward officers.

Sgt O’Hara told the meeting at Hampstead Community Centre: “I know the concerns of the chair. I am going to have to think outside of the box as to when it comes to problem-solving. There are other ways to deal with issues when you don’t have the resources.”

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