Superintendent Peter Ayling spoke at what was to be his last People Scrutiny
meeting appearance last Tuesday and did not once mention his bête noir, the Romanian crime
gangs. He had “taken them out”.
Various initiatives had resulted in burglaries being way down. Six months ago they were up by 15%, now they are down 20% referenced to the same date, a 35% improvement, the actual numbers being 1,800 then and 1,443 now. One of the best performances of similar police areas in the country.
All forms of theft were also significantly down except for theft of motorcycles which are “a challenge”. It is too dangerous to chase them. The handling networks are being targetted (and thanks to that announcement they are probably taking evasive measures right now).
Motor bike trained police officers are very expensive but training has been ongoing nevertheless and offenders will be pursued with public nuisance offences in addition to the legislation used hitherto.
Violent offences are up 29·3% (297 more offences but smaller increase than other boroughs) but that is in part due to changed reporting criteria. Previously if you were pushed, fell and grazed your skin, that was common assault. Now it is Grievous Bodily Harm. As far as I am aware, punching someone’s teeth out has not yet been reclassified as murder.
There is a surplus of around 50 officers in the borough at the moment which has allowed some flexibility until they are dispersed to assigned posts. The situation in Thamesmead has been improved as already reported and will not be the only beneficiary, among them domestic violence incidents. There has been an increase in domestic abuse over the past year of 34%. That’s 212 additional offences and the four or five hotspots are spread across the borough and probably related to (in PC speak) “diverse communities”. Repeat offending is commendably low.
Since September when the parks were left unlocked, the issue has become “a high profile issue” for the police. There has been “a series of arsons in Danson Park” and police officers are “concerned”. Strategies will be tailored as for any other crime. "Young scallywags need chasing down.”
Councillor Alan Downing asked CS Ayling’s opinion of CCTV. Short of a name or forensic evidence “it was still far and away the primary measure by which we can find an prosecute offenders”. The Commander was “overwhelmingly in favour.”
Then, led by cabinet member Alex Sawyer, the committee then went into back slapping mode and the councillors gave the outgoing Chief Superintendent a round of applause, thankful that he had not, so far as is known, arrested councillor Craske, or any of his colleagues during his two year period of tenure.