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News and Comment February 2020

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8 February (Part 1) - Good cop, bad cop

At last week’s Communities Scrutiny Committee meeting in Bexley Chairman Councillor Alan Downing asked the police to report on the local crime scene, particularly violent crime and knife crime. As is increasingly the case I watched from home and the webcast was reasonably well behaved. The police Chief Superintendent however didn’t think much of the audio quality and twice complained about it, but he was clearly heard at home.

PoliceHe began by talking about gun crime in Bexley (the other two boroughs he covers were excluded). Lethal Barrel Discharges he called them. There were four last year and nine the year before. In additional there were 18 non-lethal discharges, twice as many as in the year before. Despite the surprising - to me - high numbers it was said to be “not a prominent issue on the borough”.

Knife crime involving injury is fourth lowest in London, Sutton, Kingston and Richmond being better. “More than 50% of robberies involve the use of a knife but not all knife crime is robbery.” Some of it is burglary.

Victims of knife crime fall mainly into the 18 to 24 age group and when older people are involved it is often domestic violence “but the picture is fairly well weighted toward younger cohorts”.

Last year there were 22 knife injuries among the under 25s, once again 4th lowest in London and the year before the figure was slightly higher at 25.

Of the known violent gang members 16 are currently in custody and 67 are “under some sort of control measure, the highest in London. Richmond has only two”.

Robbery is a problem. “The other day we arrested three young offenders, all juveniles, and 19 similar offences are being connected to them.” [The Broadway Asda phone robbers perhaps?] None of the three were previously known to the police. They have been released on bail.

The number of officers tackling serious violence has been increased this year, about 100 across London and eight in Bexley. Additionally a Sergeant and six PCs will be doing more visible open spaces and transport hubs patrols. They have apprehended a good number of wanted offenders already and just a day or two ago four more who had been prolific with robberies across all the nearby boroughs were arrested. Once again, all juveniles and the new police team recovered property.

Very soon there will be a ‘Violence Suppression Unit’ doing weapon sweeps, more stop and search, home visits and proactively moving into where offenders are known to congregate. Broadway again! Very often the officers will be ‘plain clothes’.

Several operations are underway right now which are expected to have a beneficial effect on violence. Such operations have already seen a reduced number of burglaries compared to this time last year. About 22% lower.

Bexley has been a hot spot for ‘Family Gold Burglaries’ which is a national problem but a lot of effort is being focused on Bexley to combat it.

Of the 4,000 plus stop and searches last year, 60% were for drugs, 14% stolen goods, 12% for weapons and 8% “for going equipped”. A 27% positive outcome, higher than the Met. average.

There was only one Section 60 order imposed on Bexley last year.

The custody suite currently located in Plumstead will move to Bexleyheath in April.

The Chief Superintendent, who was probably Simon Dobinson but his name was never mentioned, came across as a man on top of his brief which is as you will recognise is high praise coming from me. But I am as you know influenced by events in Bexley over the past ten years and not many of us have had a, somewhat distant, family member murdered by the police for doing what in some ways is not very different to what I have done on Bonkers over the past yen years.

I very much hope I am never placed in a position whereby I am asked to help the police, even make a crime report, as I fear I would be inclined not to.

Last week was my daughter’s 50th birthday and a family gathering provided an opportunity to get an update on the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel set up by Theresa May as Home Secretary about eight years ago. I learned that some years behind schedule their report on a series of Metropolitan Police cover-ups of Daniel’s murder is pretty much done but it cannot be published due to trickery in high places.

Every time I hear a high ranking Conservative Minister spout out on the radio what an exemplary police officer we have in charge of the Metropolitan Police the aforesaid radio is in grave danger of coming in contact with a high velocity house brick.


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