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Oct 28 2014

Harrow SNB – Meeting Notes 27.10.2014

mopac_logoThe secretive Harrow Safer Neighbourhood Board met last night – the meeting, despite being ‘in public’ was unannounced, unpublished, and for all intents and purposes, ‘in public’ in name only. Clearly, they hoped to keep the great unwashed public out, as they chose a small meeting room, with about five empty chairs for it, and the public – all five of us – were crammed into a stuffy corner.

Having crammed us into the corner, the chair gave us a stiff warning that this wasn’t a public meeting, and, as such, we weren’t entitled to ask questions, talk or make any more noise than a church mouse. Warning given, off we go.

Nobody bothered to identify themselves, so we were all left in the dark who was who, until the meeting unfolded, at which point it was possible to put some names in boxes. Chair was Subhash Sampat, who can be reached at subhash@sampat.org.uk for queries. To his left was Vice-Chair, Alison somebody, and to her left was Hamera Asfa Davey who is described as a ‘programme manager’. We had Mike Howes, Cllrs Hall (the vocal one) and Parmar (the mute one) sitting either side of an unidentified Police superintendent.  We also had Cllr Barry Kendler, who clealy had ideas above his station, as he grabbed a seat at the table, despite not being on the board. Turns out that he mistakenly thought that being Cllr Parmar’s Portfolio Holder Assistant that he could stand-in for her – clearly, he’s not got a clue about the outside-bodies thing, and being thoroughly abrasive, we don’t think he’ll last too long with his grace and favours.

There were a couple of young people, the delightful Jeremy Zeid, who asked all kinds of awkward questions to keep the board on its collective toes, and one or two more who we haven’t a clue about. Much discussion first on whether the board should remain anonymous, before they agreed their names should be made public – and they might have a photo shoot as well, so watch this space.

First up was the MOPAC Crime Stats, which make interesting reading. The Police will tell you that Harrow is the “safest borough in London” – which it might well be, depending on how you look at the stats. Credit where it’s due, the crimes in the MOPAC 7 have all dropped, which is a good thing. However, the crimes in the non-MOPAC 7 seem far less rosy. Is this actually an incentive to classify crimes as non-MOPAC 7 to make the stats look good? The full table is below, but the worrying increases include:

  • Violence with injury: +6.8% (1224 annually, about 100 per month)
  • Violence against the person: +12.2% (3404 crimes across the year, almost ten per day)
  • Rape: +38.8% (93 crimes in the year, nearly two crimes per week)
  • Serious Sexual Offences: +20.6% (217 in the year)
  • Domestic Abuse: +7.8% (1404 crimes)
  • Homophobic crime: +225% (13 crimes, up from 4 per year last year)
  • Racist & Religious Crime: +7.2% (224 crimes for the year)
  • Disability Hate Crime: +200% (up from 2 crimes to 6)
  • Faith Hate crime: +7.4%
  • Homicide: up from 0 in 2012/13 to 1 in 2013/14 (which the police class as a 0% increase, and thus green)

20141028_mopac_chartMore headlines: Harrow ranks 6th out of 32 borough for public confidence, and 15th in public satisfaction. Complaints against the police have increased by 14% year on year, with 7% of those having a ‘local resolution’ and 75% with ‘no case to answer.’ About 100 complaints a year are made.

Numbers of ‘stop and search’ and ‘stop and account’ down to half. However, seven times as many black people are stopped compared to white people.

Interestingly, Harrow Bus Station is ‘relatively save’ according to Supt Anonymous. Presumably, if you go in there at night touting a baton, handcuffs and pepper spray, you may feel safe. As an adult male, I felt distinctly unsafe waiting outside at 9.30 for a bus on the way home, after trekking through a litter-strewn St Anns Road.

The board will received £5,200 to run itself. This will be give all to the council to take minutes, write agendas, and offer a meeting room four times a year. Full details in the SLA. One funding bod was submitted and rejected for being weak. The council then blew £12,500 on UnderOneSky, applied again, and got the funding.

How do we work? The board has been ‘hurt’ by comments circulated online, and say they are ‘heading in the right direction.’ Need to focus on making Harrow safer, and if work doesn’t seem to be heading that way, they’ll stop doing it.

At this point, Navin Shah enters, and takes a seat at the table. We’ve no idea if he’s on the board or what, because membership hasn’t been announced. Turns out he’s here to (hopefully) get co-opted on. He doesn’t.

No funding for a website, but the board has got a Gmail address for residents to email them. No indication of what  that address might be. No website, as there is no budget for it. Minutes will not be on the council website. Focus – for the last year – has been on setting themselves up.

Constitution. Much talk on that, but it gets a few minor changes, which is a surprise, since it’s on version 11.

MOPAC person says she’s “upset” at some comments made by bloggerss, and whilst they’ve been responding to questions, they won’t any more. Insists she’s responded to bloggers, but iharrow.com hasn’t received any email from her at all.

Lots of talk about what other boroughs are doing.

[pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]…after the ignorant Cllr Kendler is also booted out, as he wasn’t a member[/pullquote]Chair’s report: he is confused over who heads up the Met. “Commander of Scotland Yard” he says. Uh, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, perhaps?

Next, Subhash moves onto a story about some Harrow man who has gone off to join ISIS. At this point, he’s reminded that it was actually a confidential report, that wasn’t to be shared in public.

Lots of talk about gangs. MOPAC advise that funding isn’t available for gang work, as it needs a long term strategy, and funding is for short, sharp projects. Lots of problems from Salvatorian, says one of the young people. Zeid says it’s probably rivalry.

Onto Navin Shah. He wants to join the board, but not have voting rights. At this point, the public are kicked out whilst the boar debate – in secrecy – whether to let him join. So we’re back to a secret board. Shame they didn’t check coats and bags for digital recording machines! End result, when we finally get back in (after the ignorant Cllr Kendler is also booted out, as he wasn’t a member), is that Navin’s request to join is nicely denied. Before this, the MOPAC person leaves the meeting to get the train home to Bexley.

We’re back in the room, vague apologies about lack of space. Next meeting date to be January 26th.

Those document again:

There will be a public meeting, at some undefined point in the future. However, we’d expect Subhash to be no longer chairing it at that stage, although the mystery Miss Alison did a fantastic job of keeping the meeting vaguely on track: difficult, given the participants.

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