Letter to the Editor: Crime, and fear of crime, is falling sharply in Merton

Around 250 attended the police meeting in St Mark's Church, Mitcham on Saturday, August 2 2014

Around 250 attended the police meeting in St Mark's Church, Mitcham on Saturday, August 2 2014

First published in Letters

I am writing in response to misleading information both in a letter you published, Soaring crime rates mean people no longer feel safe, July 31, and an article entitled, Crime, alcoholism, drug-dealing and betting shops threaten to drive residents out of Mitcham, August 5.

Some people may have an interest in spreading doubts and worry but the facts remain that, in Merton and in London as a whole, police officer numbers are up,  crime is going down, and  confidence amongst residents has risen.

There will be 49 more warranted police officers by 2015 in local Safer Neighbourhood teams in Merton.  And the number of officers visible and out on patrol has increased in the last year - in March, the Met had the highest level of visible officers London had seen for five years

Across London, confidence in policing has increased. In September 2008,  50 per cent of Merton residents were worried or very worried about crime in their area, but five years later this figure is down to 15 per cent.

Meanwhile there has been a 12 per cent reduction in total crimes in Merton in the last year: Robbery is down by 33 per cent,  burglary is down by 21 per cent  and gun crime is down 46 per cent.

Richard Tracey

London Assembly Member for Merton and Wandsworth

 

 

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8:19am Tue 19 Aug 14

Michael Barltrop says...

Richard Tracey is aware that the Office for National Statistics is reviewing the police statistics and has refused to accept their validity following various complaints in confidence from senior officers and one significant report in the media. All official statistics are only valid if they are first cleared with the statistics office. So why all this rubbish?
Four years ago a previous borough commander was able to tell Merton Council that the gang problems had been resolved completely, due to community outreach programmes carried out by the council, community police officers and local churches. At the time my wife was ill in hospital and I had extreme insomnia. The only way I could hold it together was to walk around beautiful Mitcham in the middle of the night and very early morning. I could do that because I knew for certain that there was no remote possibility that I was going to be mugged. i never had any trouble. I met rough sleepers, saw the street padres at work, saw the Salvation Army at work and met lots of cops. They all quickly got used to me walking around just enjoying the peace and beauty of the whole place. I still think Mitcham is at its most beautiful at the very beginnings of dawn. It really is quite wonderful. There's a wonderful chapter in Wind in the Willows called Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Well, its like that.
Four years ago Merton was the third safest borough in London. It has now suddenly jumped to number five. A profound increase in crime.
Increasing the numbers of police officers in Wimbledon and Merton is pointless if those officers are having to double up as unpaid admin workers and PCSOs. A significant number of those officers have seen their workloads triple in the last twelve months as a result of the cuts imposed on Merton's police service by Stephen Hammond and Richard Tracey. As you might imagine many are absolutely furious.
Merton has lost 59% of our PCSOs so far but further massive cuts have just been announced for next year, that will effectively eliminate them completely and further raise the sworn officers' workload. Well, they are swamped now and can not cope. So how will they cope next year?
Further cuts have also been announced to reduce the remaining numbers of admin staff in Merton's police. This is just amateur night brain-dead stupid. The product of a diseased mind. Admin office workers are the essential backbone of every organisation on the planet. This includes every police force on the planet. When John Reid was Home Secretary he increased police admin staff numbers specifically so as to liberate police officers from endless paperwork and thus free them to carry out their important jobs. Admin workers are not some luxury item that can be casually discarded and only a sub-educated moron would ever even think that such an obscenity was a good idea. So who is going to be doing all the paperwork in Merton Police in 2015? Have a guess.
I got some interesting stuff from the Police Federation about these insane Tory cuts, Morale among police officers in England, Scotland and Wales is at an all-time low. Lower than ever before. In Scotland it is a big political issue in the run up to the referendum and may account for the swing back to the SNP. Remember that there are no Tory MPs in Scotland and nobody in Scotland voted for the police cuts. I want Scotland to stay with Britain but Ed Miliband is right to say we need to devolve major powers to the Scottish people.
A recent survey has shown that the major cause of stress among police officers and staff is directly related to the cuts. Almost 70 per cent of the 3,335 stressed personnel cited a massively increased workload caused by the cuts as the cause of their stress. There has also been a major jump in the number of police officers who are joining the Labour Party.
The level of crime is up. The detection levels are down as a universal constant across Merton and Wimbledon. A story device in TV shows like Luther is the idea that teams of detectives work on single cases at a time. This hardly ever happens in real life. Detectives can have between eight to thirty cases running at a time. There is actually a universally accepted mathmatical equation used by the FBI to determine the probability of successful outcomes related to manpower investment and available time. Which obviously shrink as manpower levels decrease. If you have ever played the computer game, LA Noir (If not then you need to give it a go. Its major) then you will see how the equation works out in practice. The more of your friends who play, the quicker you solve the murders.
The same applies in Merton. The FBI equation can only work one way. Because the workload has increased the available officers are unable to tackle, for example, the drug gangs that currently use local betting shops as laundries. (and no they are not kids. They are east-European family groups under oligarchs. They use the terminals inside the betting shops to launder their money very quickly. The old men outside are lookouts for the mob. Ladbrokes profit margins are down this year because of these gangs).
Okay, this is a huge generalisation and only a short-hand. And is not a universal constant. How to deal with the problem of the drug gangs if you don't have any support staff? Answer, YOU DON'T.
The solution is to do nothing. So long as ANY police file remains OPEN it can not be recorded as a failed investigation, regardless of the fact that no actual investigation is possible due to critical manpower shortages.
Only when a file is closed can it be recorded as either a successful or unsuccessful investigation.
If the only crimes being investigated are grannies stealing food from supermarkets the detection rates can be portrayed as going up.
NON CRIME is a police term intended to be applied in a very limited way to very minor forms of civil disorder. That is not the case anymore. It has increasingly become a general heading to reduce the crime figures. I have a microphone pickup on my mobile that enables me to record every conversation that takes place at every public meeting I attend. At the Ravensbury Park meeting the two officers explained that they were unable to take further action when they encountered the motorcycle gangs in the park because they didn't have the manpower. NO Further Action goes into the file as a Non Crime. At Siobhain's church meeting in Mitcham there were complaints from residents that police officers showed up so late at crime scenes that the thugs had already departed. Presumably they died of old age. Again, those are Non Crimes.
I speak to police officers all the time. And i get the same story over and over again. And that story is that serious crime detection rates in Merton
are down by 78%. And statistically, how can they possibly be anything else?
But that isn't the greatest obscenity. I will tell you what that is. Four years of a tripling of their workloads and meanwhile no financial compensation. And effectively no pay rise. What an utterly reprehensible way to treat brave men and women who risk their lives every day to protect our families. And one brave young officer has died on our behalf.
Richard Tracey is aware that the Office for National Statistics is reviewing the police statistics and has refused to accept their validity following various complaints in confidence from senior officers and one significant report in the media. All official statistics are only valid if they are first cleared with the statistics office. So why all this rubbish? Four years ago a previous borough commander was able to tell Merton Council that the gang problems had been resolved completely, due to community outreach programmes carried out by the council, community police officers and local churches. At the time my wife was ill in hospital and I had extreme insomnia. The only way I could hold it together was to walk around beautiful Mitcham in the middle of the night and very early morning. I could do that because I knew for certain that there was no remote possibility that I was going to be mugged. i never had any trouble. I met rough sleepers, saw the street padres at work, saw the Salvation Army at work and met lots of cops. They all quickly got used to me walking around just enjoying the peace and beauty of the whole place. I still think Mitcham is at its most beautiful at the very beginnings of dawn. It really is quite wonderful. There's a wonderful chapter in Wind in the Willows called Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Well, its like that. Four years ago Merton was the third safest borough in London. It has now suddenly jumped to number five. A profound increase in crime. Increasing the numbers of police officers in Wimbledon and Merton is pointless if those officers are having to double up as unpaid admin workers and PCSOs. A significant number of those officers have seen their workloads triple in the last twelve months as a result of the cuts imposed on Merton's police service by Stephen Hammond and Richard Tracey. As you might imagine many are absolutely furious. Merton has lost 59% of our PCSOs so far but further massive cuts have just been announced for next year, that will effectively eliminate them completely and further raise the sworn officers' workload. Well, they are swamped now and can not cope. So how will they cope next year? Further cuts have also been announced to reduce the remaining numbers of admin staff in Merton's police. This is just amateur night brain-dead stupid. The product of a diseased mind. Admin office workers are the essential backbone of every organisation on the planet. This includes every police force on the planet. When John Reid was Home Secretary he increased police admin staff numbers specifically so as to liberate police officers from endless paperwork and thus free them to carry out their important jobs. Admin workers are not some luxury item that can be casually discarded and only a sub-educated moron would ever even think that such an obscenity was a good idea. So who is going to be doing all the paperwork in Merton Police in 2015? Have a guess. I got some interesting stuff from the Police Federation about these insane Tory cuts, Morale among police officers in England, Scotland and Wales is at an all-time low. Lower than ever before. In Scotland it is a big political issue in the run up to the referendum and may account for the swing back to the SNP. Remember that there are no Tory MPs in Scotland and nobody in Scotland voted for the police cuts. I want Scotland to stay with Britain but Ed Miliband is right to say we need to devolve major powers to the Scottish people. A recent survey has shown that the major cause of stress among police officers and staff is directly related to the cuts. Almost 70 per cent of the 3,335 stressed personnel cited a massively increased workload caused by the cuts as the cause of their stress. There has also been a major jump in the number of police officers who are joining the Labour Party. The level of crime is up. The detection levels are down as a universal constant across Merton and Wimbledon. A story device in TV shows like Luther is the idea that teams of detectives work on single cases at a time. This hardly ever happens in real life. Detectives can have between eight to thirty cases running at a time. There is actually a universally accepted mathmatical equation used by the FBI to determine the probability of successful outcomes related to manpower investment and available time. Which obviously shrink as manpower levels decrease. If you have ever played the computer game, LA Noir (If not then you need to give it a go. Its major) then you will see how the equation works out in practice. The more of your friends who play, the quicker you solve the murders. The same applies in Merton. The FBI equation can only work one way. Because the workload has increased the available officers are unable to tackle, for example, the drug gangs that currently use local betting shops as laundries. (and no they are not kids. They are east-European family groups under oligarchs. They use the terminals inside the betting shops to launder their money very quickly. The old men outside are lookouts for the mob. Ladbrokes profit margins are down this year because of these gangs). Okay, this is a huge generalisation and only a short-hand. And is not a universal constant. How to deal with the problem of the drug gangs if you don't have any support staff? Answer, YOU DON'T. The solution is to do nothing. So long as ANY police file remains OPEN it can not be recorded as a failed investigation, regardless of the fact that no actual investigation is possible due to critical manpower shortages. Only when a file is closed can it be recorded as either a successful or unsuccessful investigation. If the only crimes being investigated are grannies stealing food from supermarkets the detection rates can be portrayed as going up. NON CRIME is a police term intended to be applied in a very limited way to very minor forms of civil disorder. That is not the case anymore. It has increasingly become a general heading to reduce the crime figures. I have a microphone pickup on my mobile that enables me to record every conversation that takes place at every public meeting I attend. At the Ravensbury Park meeting the two officers explained that they were unable to take further action when they encountered the motorcycle gangs in the park because they didn't have the manpower. NO Further Action goes into the file as a Non Crime. At Siobhain's church meeting in Mitcham there were complaints from residents that police officers showed up so late at crime scenes that the thugs had already departed. Presumably they died of old age. Again, those are Non Crimes. I speak to police officers all the time. And i get the same story over and over again. And that story is that serious crime detection rates in Merton are down by 78%. And statistically, how can they possibly be anything else? But that isn't the greatest obscenity. I will tell you what that is. Four years of a tripling of their workloads and meanwhile no financial compensation. And effectively no pay rise. What an utterly reprehensible way to treat brave men and women who risk their lives every day to protect our families. And one brave young officer has died on our behalf. Michael Barltrop
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