Dec 01 2015

Notes from Harrow’s Safer Neighbourhood Meeting – November 25, 2015

police_jacketI’m hugely indebted to Sonoo Malkani for providing this write up from the November 25 meeting of Harrow’s Safer Neighbourhood meeting at the end of November:

As promised,more about the 25th November Harrow SNB meeting.It was my first one as their Board member.I was appointed only recently,in August.I must say,despite not publicising much in advance,owing to unavoidable circumstances,it was most rewarding to have around 50 people attend.I will endeavour to get the next meeting date confirmed well ahead of time so more of you can contribute and benefit from this engagement.Our vulnerable groups will also be contacted and assisted to attend.The next meeting will definitely be in February 2016, followed by the Annual General Meeting in MAY 2016,not March as previously stated.

It was a packed agenda with many leading community members attending.We had Cllr Graham Henson,portfolio holder for policing and environment,Dan Burke,Director of Ignite Trust,Borough Commander,Chief Superintendent,Simon Ovens,Subhash Sampat,Chair of Harrow SNB,Mike Howes Council Officer,Craig Dixon Senior Officer, Brent & Harrow Victim Support ,Richard Boulton and Sonoo Malkani(myself—Communications and Public Relations Officer)at the top table.I had just been made Interim Vice Chair since our previous Vice Chair,Toks Odofin,has left owing to pressure of work as Chair of Street Pastors in Harrow.We hope to elect a new Vice Chair at our elections at the AGM in May.

In addition, we had Board member Rekha Hindocha,two young Board members representing Harrow School plus two from our Harrow Youth Parliament,this year’s leading Harrow Hero,Chandulal Shah,Navin Shah,GLA member for Brent & Harrow,Cllrs Susan Hall and Manji Kara,Sam Botchey who expertly runs our HYP ,Faiz Naserali ,Independent Custody Visitor,a number of community leaders,community champions and members of public from many diverse communities in attendance.This was very pleasing.We all anxiously awaited the latest information on London’s policing and that of Harrow in particular from Borough Commander,Simon Ovens.

Cllr Henson and Navin Shah both made their observations about the dreaded policing cuts which most people were bracing themselves for and the number of police officers,in particular PCSO’s Harrow has lost since Simon Ovens arrived in Harrow,almost three years back.We only have 24 in total in the whole of Harrow and could sure use more.They are an invaluable asset for our local communities and the life blood of local policing especially when we need intelligence on criminals and potential terrorists.They were relieved the cuts anticipated had not come through but also sceptical and said “the devil’s in the detail”.Navin Shah promised to bring back more details after attending the meeting of the Policing & Crime Committee which was being held at City hall the following day.They took plenty of questions from members of public who had been worried how the savage cuts anticipated would impact on their safety and that of the general public.Most were satisfied with the answers.

Craig Dixon and Dan Burke spoke eloquently about their works and how they would serve on the HSNB. Rekha Hindocha has been planning and helping with our Projects and spoke knowledgeably about what had been achieved and what was in the pipe-line.The knife -bin project had been conducted successfully for a whole year.We are very concerned about knife crime in London on the up.

Youths present were very impressive,enthusiastic and keen and made useful contributions.I am very encouraged they are so actively involved and intend to develop this in the New Year.Their fresh ideas will help bring new life into our Board.We’d love to have a small youth team on board.

Of course,the piece de resistance was the talk by our Borough Commander,Simon Ovens.He seemed relieved and pleased having heard,earlier in the day,that Chancellor George Osborne had had a change of heart and had announced in the COMPREHENSIVE SPENDING REVIEW there would be “no policing cuts”.He categorically stated “the police protects us,we must protect our police”,No ifs and buts.The country was facing real threats of terrorism.He said they had also granted 30% extra for Counter-terrorism work.Simon Ovens welcomed this but added a note of caution till he heard what this would mean in real terms from Commissioner Hogan-Howe.he felt encouraged by the news but was still anxious about savings still on the cards.

I expressed my optimism and hoped we would be able to retain many more front-line officers and services after this unequivocal announcement from our Chancellor.My way of looking at things is to hope for the best and carry on working diligently to deliver best outcomes.

The public also seemed happy and very surprised having heard the announcements from George Osborne,which made them feel safer.In Harrow,we still have a disproportionate fear of Crime.

The Borough Commander gave us the excellent news that Harrow had regained its position at the top of London’s safety table.He was applauded and went on to tell us how this had been achieved.He has been an excellent Borough Commander and has done us proud.He also gave us plenty of details regarding our crime statistics.Please look up the web-site for Harrow SNB www.saferharrow.co.uk for further details.

We have to work on reducing Violent crime with assault but even those numbers are relatively small.On balance,the Performance Statistics were pleasing.The public expressed their satisfaction.

Our youth asked how we might address the problem of a “disconnect between police and youth”.The Borough Commander was more than willing to explore ideas and the HSNB has plans to develop a project in conjunction with Harrow Youth Parliament to ensure this is speedily put right.

Many were concerned about the terror attacks in Paris and elsewhere and the probability of similar attacks in London.They asked what Harrow Council ,Police & partners had planned in case it became a reality.Simon Ovens advised us how this was in hand.

He also informed us that his deputy,Superintendent Mark Wolski was leaving very shortly.We all wish him a happy and long retirement and thank him for his many contributions to Harrow.Chief Inspector,Emma Richards,will be acting Superintendent.

Simon Ovens invited us all very cordially to his third Annual Christmas Carol Concert on December 16,in St.John’s Church,Greenhill,Harrow. Starts 730pm sharp.All communities are welcome.There is capacity for up to 700 people.Parking is available nearby.He gave out leaflets and asked us to come and enjoy the Carol singing,mince pies and hot drinks with the rest of the community.I have attended both previous concerts .Thoroughly recommended.All our top brass will be there.Not to be missed!

On behalf of Harrow Interfaith I invited everybody to please attend a QUESTION THE COPS meeting arranged in conjunction with Harrow Police on Dec1 at the Civic Centre Harrow,in the Council Chamber.Our Borough Commander and panel members will answer questions from the floor.Should be lively.Details on iharrow.com.Hope to see many of you there.Light refreshments in Members Lounge from 630pm.Remember to please sign in and leave contact details.Meeting starts 7pm sharp.

All in all,this meeting of HSNB was a success primarily because of the free-flowing inter-action between members of public and those charged with our policing.Meaningful dialogue is most important for keeping the communication lines open and for successful policing.

HAPPY CHANNUKAH to those celebrating.

Wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a SAFE & HAPPY 2016.

Your support is key to our success.See you all soon.

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