Friday 21 September 2018

Has the Metropolitan Police ceased operating in The London Borough of Barnet?

You may say "What a ridiculous question, why would anyone ask such a question?". If I saw a blog with such a title, I'd say the same thing myself. Or maybe I would have yesterday. Today it seems a perfectly rational question. You see between last night and when I sat down to have my lunch today, I've spoken to four different people who have all been victims of crime in our locality. All of them declined to go "on record", but each of them story ends with the words "and the police did nothing". I have no idea what the priorities of the Metropolitan Police are in Mill Hill or for the rest of Barnet. I know for a fact that they are stretched in a way that has never happened before. I was due to go for a weekend away this week with a friend who is a serving officer, but had to defer as we are dropping my daughter at Uni. I have every sympathy and I in no way blame the officers at the coalface. It is the politicians who have taken their eye off the ball. In light of my conversations, I decided to look at the local crime statistics for Mill Hill. I would imagine that Mill Hill is fairly representative of Barnet generally and I chose it as I know the area well. Have a look at these shocking facts. The first one is the latest figures for Mill Hill (for July)
Mill Hill Crime Map for Mill Hill July 2018

Breakdown of crime types 2017/2018

Breakdown of Outcomes 2017/2018

Ask anyone what the principle job of the Police is. Most people would say to "catch criminals and lock them up". Of approximately 1,500 crimes in the year in Mill Hill, 1.98% ended in a court appearance and 0.33% ended in a criminal going to prison. That is five people. Forgive my stupidity, but given that there were 316 instances of violence and sexual assault, 41 robberies and 7 cases of possession of weapons, all of which I'd expect a high number of convictions amongst, what can we conclude? Of course there are 14 where the "court result is unavailable", however this hardly makes a dent. I note that only one person was fined. Given that there were 310 instances of Anti Social behaviour (which I'd say a fine is generally a most appropriate penalty), this is truly appalling.  The vast majority of these crimes, 954 are "under investigation" (Whatever that means). There were 466 cases where the investigation was dropped with "no suspect identified". 

I am making an assumption that Mill Hill mirrors the rest of the Borough of Barnet. I am making a further assumption that the crime patterns are largely similar. In January, our local MP, Mr Matthew Offord staged a public meeting at the Hartley Hall in Mill Hill, with the Chief of Police from Barnet Police, Simon Rose. This followed the appalling killing of shopkeeper Vijay Patel. The three young men involved were caught and prosecuted. It does seem that when there is a priority such as a murder or a terrorist incident, we can expect the police to respond. But for assaults, robberies, weapons offences, sexual offences and burglaries can we expect anything at all. 

One of the people I spoke with told me about their frustrations with "Victim Support". They said "The job of the Police is to nick the bad bad guys, not drink tea and tell me how sorry they are". They suggested that our community should organise itself so we do the community support ourselves and free up the bobbies to catch the villains. Another victim, who was suffered from a burglary and are yet to see the police, said "The only reason I called them was so I had a crime number for the insurance company". This particular person is a staunch Tory and a hard line outsourcer. They made an even more radical suggestion "Why don't they simply out source burglary investigations to Capita. Then you could ring up, wait half an hour on the phone for an answer, have to navigate an impossible switchboard and eventually be given a number, safe in the knowledge that no one will ever bother to do anything with it. It would be a crap service but at least it would free up a few coppers and we'd not have the false hope that something might happen".

What I find upsetting is the repeated comments that "The Police are absolutely useless". I honestly don't believe they are. What they are is completely underfunded. Any criminal reading these figures will sleep easy in their bed. The only time that any crime, other than murders and terrorism are punished is when the offenders are caught red handed, usually by members of the public. I don't believe that there is a single law abiding resident of the London Borough of Barnet who believes we have enough police to do the job. I don't believe that there is a single, law abiding resident of the London Borough of Barnet who would object to a small rise in taxation (say £2 a week) to get the numbers of police we need back on the streets. I have daughters who I want to feel safe on the streets. The 316 cases of violence and sexual assault scare the hell out of me. I have to say that if I ever caught anyone sexually assaulting my wife or daughters, then there would most likely be one more person added to the number of people going to prison, just about everyone I know who has daughters would say the same thing. I want the police to be the ones bringing justice to such people, but what happens when they give up? Having reviewed the statistics, the only conclusion I can draw is that they are not doing anything to seriously deal with the 316 violent and sexual assaults. That is truly horrific.  I am a law abiding citizen who takes my civic responsibilities seriously. When I look at this I realise that there is simply no way as a society that we can let things proceed as they are. 

Back in January, Matthew Offord assured a packed audience that he'd do something to sort the situation out. On his website he says "Under Labour the police spent 50% more time on paperwork than they did out on patrol. Labour’s obsession with targets and box-ticking hindered the fight against crimes like burglary. Getting more police on the beat is a top priority for me."

We've now had eight years of Conservative government, which Matthew Offord has been a member of. Surely the time has come where Labour can no longer be blamed. We don't want a political football, we want action. We want to feel safe in our homes and on the streets. We are crying out for leadership from the likes of Mr Offord, people who have the guts to say "It may add the cost of a Starbucks coffee a week to your tax bill, but we simply need more police, so they can do the job properly". That is the only way that Mr Offords desire for " police on the beat" will ever be realised.

Have you been the victim of a serious crime and had no response from the Police? Let us know

Many thanks to Lydia Wolfson for pointing us at this petition to improve policing. Readers may wish to sign

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