On Thursday I attended the Eltham North Ward Panel meeting which is held quarterly by the local police. This meeting was well attended, probably because of the rise in burglaries in Eltham which the police have struggled to stem.
Although there were a lot of other items on the agenda and our local police team are obviously working really hard, the hard figures circulated at the meeting showed the way the burglary issue had grown in recent months – from 0 in July to 14 in November (although the month hadn’t finished at that point).
For me the most depressing part of the meeting was that the local officers were quite happy to help advise people how to secure their own homes, but without more resources (like a car) it was extremely hard for them to combat a well organised, potentially violent gang who were in and out of houses quickly and used a getaway car with false number plates.
As a Councillor I remain of the opinion that working with others regardless of party to improve the Borough is the best way of getting things done (especially in opposition) but in this case, I want to make clear my feeling that the reorganisation of London’s Police under the Mayor is clearly having an impact on what can be achieved locally. Losing our Police Station is a mistake which our Council, our GLA member and our MP should be fighting but they simply aren’t making enough of an effort. Blaming the government is easy (and I am sure they have done things wrong) but the Mayor of London needs to step up and take responsibility. The stories told by residents at our local police meeting were frightening and it can’t be right for the only police response to people’s doors being kicked in to be to offer some advice about how to secure your home.
We need more police on our streets, an open police station and a plan for dealing with these burglars – I’ll be writing to the Borough Commander to ask what he can do, but the politicians in charge need to hear that what is happening at the moment isn’t working and give our police the resources they need to do their jobs properly.