Jun 02 2015

Harrow SNB AGM Meeting – Notes from Sonoo

sonoo_malkaniSonoo Malkani attended the first AGM of the Harrow Safer Neighbourhood Board recently – this is her comment to another article, but it’s much too good to hide away there, so I’ve reproduced it in full here. Full credit to Sonoo for making the effort to attend, and to write up the proceedings.

The first Annual General Meeting of the Harrow Safer Neighbourhood Board(SNB) was held last night in Cm Rms 1&2,at Harrow Civic Centre.It was good to have Board members as well as the new portfolio holder for Environment, Crime & Community Safety, GRAHAM HENSON, present.It was encouraging to see a representative from Harrow Youth Parliament, Darren,also there promoting youth issues.

I had hoped many more members of public had availed themselves of this opportunity to see how our SNB had progressed and what had been accomplished thus far but it seems we need to publicise this more actively. We raised this with the Board and were assured this was ”work in progress”. Many suggestions were made and noted. Councillors Kareema Marrikar, Ramji Chauhan ,Sachin Shah and Ajay Maru attended and also asked loads of questions.

It was great to have such an INTERACTIVE MEETING. Plenty of time was allowed for Q&A which made engagement meaningful and very worthwhile. One hopes this will be extended at future meetings, within reason!We all had the opportunity to have OUR VOICE HEARD. This will help bring many more to these SNB meetings.

Board member, REKHA HINDOCHA,is working hard to secure MOPAC funding for several relevant projects and also for Community engagement. It was rewarding to see that requests made by us,the members of public, at their last Board meeting, had been taken seriously.

The SNB is aiming to have public engagement once a month which should help them find out what our public really feels about our policing and issues connected with our safety and harmonious living. They may like volunteers to help them with activities of this nature. Watch this space or visit their web-site in the forthcoming weeks.

Council officer, MIKE HOWES, took the minutes and also provided valuable information about DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. He is the Lead for Harrow and, if I recall correctly, for London as well. His support is key to the smooth working of Harrow’s SNB.

It was good to have a member of the Independent Visitors Panel from Brent, introduce himself. We would appreciate very much if we had one from our own borough as well. Members of public may apply for LAY vacancies on this Board via the Safer Harrow web-site or by getting an application from Mike Howes, Harrow Council.

The VICTIM SUPPORT representative, for Brent and Harrow, Kenny, introduced himself. Slowly but surely the Partnership is evolving and moving forwards.

We were given a short but useful report by STOP & SEARCH MONITORING GROUP Chair, JOHN CORQUIN. It was good to hear that in the two years that they have been operating they have carried out work and had valuable feed-back in particular about the quality and number of the Stops in relation to Ethnic Groups. It is so good to hear that we do not have issues of Disproportionality.
In one of their questionnaires the men stopped –mainly 18 to 24 year olds— did not seem to mind the Stops and Searches at all.In fact, they have been extremely useful for finding Drug dealers, suppliers, burglars and other criminals. A very valuable tool in the policing amoury, used appropriately and professionally.

More work is afoot which will, no doubt, add value to the findings of our S&S Monitoring Group and be revealed in due course.The findings of our local monitoring group is fed into the Pan London group which is a Networking Stop & Search Monitoring Group.Our Police is well represented on that too.

Edgware Safer Neighbourhood Panel Chair, RICHARD BOULTON also participated, along with SNB Chair SUBHASH SAMPAT.

Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Harrow Police, SIMON OVENS, gave an excellent report and Performance Statistics which made us all feel proud of his efforts as well as those of his entire team. In the two years he has served in Harrow, we have gone from being number SEVEN for SAFETY to NUMBER ONE!!  We asked him loads of pertinent questions which he answered quite expertly and very frankly. We appreciate his honesty and transparency as this has definitely helped increase our confidence in Harrow Police by leaps and bounds. This is all the more important since the Policing landscape is due to undergo a number of changes in the not too distant future. His deputy,Superintendent Mark Wolski also deserves thanks for their excellent results and team work.

We spent a fair amount of time “grilling” Simon Ovens and found this most productive .He seemed to be enjoying it, being a winner!

It’s such a shame Harrow Times failed to cover this important meeting. However, we have requested the Vice Chair, TOKS ODOFIN, to please have information of what was discussed put on the website for the Harrow SNB as soon as possible and look forward to that being implemented at the earliest.

You will please access this on the SAFER HARROW website in the near future. Minutes of previous meetings held for the year prior to this are already on this web-site. You may also see these via a link on HARROW’s POLICE web-site.

Since we have much to crow about our safety, I will take the liberty of giving you a summary of what Simon Ovens has told us about the following in a separate follow-up very shortly:

HARROW”s SAFETY RECORD in relation to 32 London Boroughs
Also, in relation to the SEVEN MOPAC CRIMES against which the whole of London is measured.

It makes interesting reading. Keep watching this space!

All in all, this AGM was thoroughly enjoyable, fruitful and successful. Well done to all the volunteers and everybody connected with this Board, not least, you, the members of Harrow’s public. Keep coming and help us to maintain our safety record.

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  1. Old Harrocian

    thanks for yr report Paul im sure many public will attend the next meeting.
    problem today seems to be loss of Harrow Observer these meetings and events just do not get announced.
    i attended the police meeting earlier in the yr at the civic ctr Very good informative meeting of the policing of the borough and well attended by the met police and council .But the first
    question at Q & A by local counsellor was , Why wasnt the meeting announced properly to the public as only about 30 people attended so Q & A was brief
    ( My question was ; why did Harrow not have a modern police station and a police car depot in the ctr of Harrow)
    that got no response except cost , when Kodak site would have been perfect (Next to Harrow Ct

  2. Sonoo Malkani

    What a pleasant surprise!Most grateful to Paul Boakes for printing this most generously as a separate article which I sincerely hope will benefit our citizens.I am impelled to write a fuller account of the Borough Commander’s Performance Statistics which are second to none.

    Before I say any more about that let me record that whenever members of public have attended these meetings both Borough Commander Simon Ovens and his Deputy,Superintendent Mark Wolski,have been very forthright and given straight answers—something we ordinary folk value dearly.The transparent manner in which they engage with us has helped confidence in our police surge.Our sincere thanks to them and their officers.

    To recap the salient points of Simon Ovens’ Police Performance report at the AGM held on 27 May 2015.
    Good news—
    Harrow still ranks as NUMBER ONE FOR SAFETY in our 32 London Boroughs.This has not happened by chance but has been achieved using certain strategies which have paid off handsomely.

    a)Demanding from his officers ROBUST USE OF POLICE POWERS ,which are far reaching.He expects them to use their discretion in exercising these powers.In some cases, they may simply intervene and ask ,for example,that a seat belt be worn and so on.One size does not fit all.Arrest rates for criminals has trebled, using this method.
    b)Using PREDICTIVE POLICING,an American technique,making use of algorithims.They look at the past 5 years’crimes.Each day,all crimes are looked at THRICE DAILY by his Senior Management Team,which PREDICT CRIME HOT SPOTS.
    This is quite different to the previous use of past crime patterns for deploying resources.Burglary and Car Crime show up quite clearly in specific areas.Intelligence is used to predict how criminals behave and what factors affect their patterns of crime,at particular times of the year.Teams are sent out to areas where crime MIGHT be most likely to occur.Using INTELLIGENCE is another feature of this which has helped greatly.
    c)Using robustly POWERS of CUSTODY wherever applicable,to deal with the 7 MOPAC CRIMES.He has found this works most productively when someone who has been held in custody for 24 to 48 hours(eg on a week-end) is put in front of a Magistrate ,especially for acquisitive crime,such as Burglary.

    He took a lively Q&A session where he was quizzed by various members of public and Councillors present on a range of topics which was most informative.eg the burning issue of the “Grey Set Gang” which has been dealt with most effectively by the Wealdstone team.Sgt.Tony McGowan is doing great work.Street Robberies have dropped off as has low level drug dealing.Similar results have come in from the Northolt Road,S.Harrow, “hot spots”.Ealing Police also co-operates with boundary issues as do Hertfordshire police, where necessary.

    There was plenty of time for people to ask questions and also make useful comments regarding policing issues of common interest.He enlightened us with many such examples of JOINT WORKING which had helped solve crimes or prevent them.

    The Youth Parliament representative asked pointed questions regarding Youth issues.The Harrow Youth Parliament will be working more closely with Simon Ovens to ensure they receive an enhanced service.This is very pleasing and bodes well for our young folk.

    There was much interest shown in CRIME PREVENTION as at festivals when Robbery of valuables have a potential occur as do Residential Burglaries.Harrow Police have a policy of rolling out their Crime Prevention messages to help prevent members of public becoming victims of crime as happens during the period leading upto Diwali or the wedding season and also before and during major festivals such as Eid and at Christmas when people tend to relax and forget to take basic preventative measures.
    These can be obtained throughout the year from our 21 Safer Neighbourhood Teams.The use of SMARTWATER also helps police to unite the property found to their rightful owners.Protecting personal jewellery especially Gold as well as property is very important.

    It became increasingly evident that PARTNERSHIP WORKING such as “DAYS OF ACTION”,
    between the Police,Local Authority,Trading Standards,Border Police and allied agencies had brought much success.Resources are pooled and bring rich dividends.The use of SOCIAL MEDIA as in Tweets has also been rather successful.

    This INTERACTION between the public and Police made the meeting well worth attending.

    The PERFORMANCE Statistics revealed Harrow’s record which is pleasing overall.

    Total crimes recorded in Harrow in the 11 months to February 2015,had increased only by 0.8%,compared to the previous period.

    However,within that total,the MOPAC 7 CRIMES,which are deemed to have the highest impact on the community,have REDUCED by 9.3% and 7.4% across London as a whole.
    We must celebrate DRAMATIC REDUCTIONS in Robbery down 30.8%;Burglary down 23.1%,Theft of Motor Vehicles down 14.4%,Theft from Motor vehicles down 8%,Theft from the person down 12.6%.

    This remarkable improvement in reducing the above mentioned crimes has resulted in Harrow achieving status as the SAFEST LONDON BOROUGH for which we all warmly congratulated the Borough Commander and his team.We,do however,recognise the need to keep up the good work on an ongoing basis to retain our safety record,which many boroughs envy greatly.Complacency is not part of our package!

    Simon Ovens mentioned TWO areas of CONCERN which they are targetting:

    a)VIOLENCE with INJURY, including DOMESTIC & STREET VIOLENCE which has gone up by 6.9% in Harrow compared with the London-wide trend recording a 20.2% increase.
    Harrow Police takes DOMESTIC VIOLENCE very seriously and LEADS LONDON for DETECTIONS in this field.That truly is a “result”for our victims of this appalling crime.Superintendent Wolski has done great work and goes into Schools to raise awareness,as well as hold work-shops ,which are invaluable.

    b)CRIMINAL DAMAGE ,which has increased by 9.8%in Harrow,compared with the London-wide trend recording a 7.1%increase.This type of crime tends to be concentrated in two main areas—the TOWN CENTRE and NORTHOLT ROAD(S.Harrow).The Safer Neighbourhood Board has asked the Harrow Police to focus on measures to help decrease these crimes.

    Other important statistics for Harrow’s performance reveal the following:

    On a London-wide basis we hold the THIRD highest record in PUBLIC CONFIDENCE,reflecting how well the Police in the area were PERFORMING overall.

    Harrow’s record for PUBLIC SATISFACTION,reflecting how satisfied or otherwise they were with the SERVICE received is SLIGHTLY ABOVE the AVERAGE Pan London.This has been attributed by the Police to a failure to keep Victims of Crime sufficiently informed about the progress of investigatons and impending court appearances.Measures have been put into place to address this and boost SATISFACTION.

    The number of COMPLAINTS recorded locally has increased 23%in the last year,the largest category being “Failure in Duty”.This relates to a mismatch between Victim expectation and Police practice.The SNB has plans in the pipe-line to help address this actively using PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT functions.

    This was music to our ears since COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT has been largely missing thus far.They hope to hold monthly public forums which will definitely help address the gap identified by leading members of the former CPEG –the Harrow Police & Community Consultative Group(HPCG).This is a very positive plan which needs implementing as soon as possible.They also have other projects ,such as holding meetings of the Chairs and Vice Chairs of the Safer Neighbourhood Panels to inform and enhance their Monitoring of Harrow Police.This will help address most of the issues which have surfaced in the first year of the Harrow SNB.

    The Harrow Safer Neighbourhood Board(SNB) is keen to enrol more LAY MEMBERS who will actively participate and make us truly representative of Harrow’s diverse community.

    Please contact Mike Howes at Harrow Council or download an application form on their existing web-site, Safer Harrow ,should you be interested.Let’s hope in the following year we can support the SNB help publicise its works,deliver many successful projects and engage effectively with the community of Harrow.

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