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London round-up

Cuts in local government under the Coalition are far from ended, and meanwhile councils are among other things looking to manage crime and ASB (anti-social behaviour) generated by the NTE (night time economy, to use the jargon).

For instance in the north London borough of Camden, according to a December 2014 cabinet report, the council is considering a Late Night Levy for Camden premises that are licensed to sell alcohol from midnight to 6am. As the council says, the levy would pay towards the costs of managing the night time economy in the borough. A council has the power to raise that levy under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.

As for community safety the council speaks of a cut in ‘patrol services. We will focus remaining resources on visible services and CCTV, looking at options that will enhance perceptions of safety and community confidence’. Overall across the council some 600 posts are expected to be lost, including 200 managers, on top of over 800 redundancies during 2010-14. Consultation on specific proposals with unions and service users will start in the New Year.

Sarah Hayward Leader of Camden Council said: “This process has been incredibly hard for all of us, no council wants to cuts services or jobs. But that’s why we were so keen to do forensic reviews of every area of spending to make sure the resources we do have are focussed on those who need them the most. Visit http://camden.gov.uk.

Ahead of a policy and resources committee meeting of Barnet Council in December the north London council spoke of its spending power halving in the 2010s.

Barnet says that its CCTV service contract – costing £843,000 in the year 2014-15 – runs until 2019 ‘and towards the end of this contract the council will work hard to identify alternative funding sources for this service’. The council also says that it wants to ‘move the CCTV service to a revenue neutral position at the end of the current service, preferably through the identification of alternative funding sources to maintain the benefits of service’.

Meanwhile in south London, Southwark Council has been petitioning for more local police officers in the borough. The council says that over 2,000 people connected to the borough have backed the council’s campaign to boost the number of police officers and PSCOs dedicated to Southwark. The petition came after a cut of almost 200 police officers and PSCOs in 2010, according to the council.

The campaign is being headed by Southwark’s cabinet member for community safety Councillor Michael Situ. He said: “It’s been amazing to see so many residents get behind the police petition, even going as far as to help promote the petition to other residents. It’s now time for Boris to sit up and listen to what we have to say. Southwark deserves a police force that mirrors the residents it serves. It needs a force that is community driven and understands the varying needs of the local people.

“We really appreciate the work that local officers do, they’ve helped make Southwark a safer place to be, but we need more.”

Everyday CCTV work goes on meanwhile. For instance Merton Council in south London reports that a missing girl was returned safely to her family after the council’s CCTV helped the police find her.

The girl, aged 15, had been reported missing on Wednesday, November 13. This led the police to contact the council to help trace her whereabouts. After a search of all CCTV cameras, the girl was spotted in Morden later that evening by a member of the team. After alerting the police, the operators kept up with the girl’s movements on camera while regularly directing the units who were following close by. She was returned safely to her home.

Merton’s cabinet member for community safety, equalities and engagement, Councillor Edith Macauley said: “I’m happy that the young girl was found and safely returned to her family and that our CCTV team were able to play a key role in helping. This is a great example of how their expertise, quick-thinking and operation of the cameras were a great help to the police.”

Merton’s Deputy Borough Commander, Detective Superintendent David Palmer, said: “This clearly demonstrates the advantage of having an effective CCTV system, staffed by alert and effective operators. This example of effective partnership working has certainly ensured the safe return of the young person home and the saving of considerable police time. Merton Police will use every tool to its fullest, to ensure that Merton is the safest place it can be. We are very grateful to the CCTV staff as always, for their help and support.”

And in north east London police arrested a man on Friday, November 28, after Enfield Council’s CCTV operators alerted police to a fight at Edmonton Green Shopping Centre.

A man was spotted with a metal pole during the incident after 6pm, which he hid under a car before leaving the area. Police arrived; CCTV control room staff directed officers to him and he was arrested.

Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Safety, Chris Bond, said: “We have an excellent CCTV network in this borough and that means if you commit a crime in Enfield within sight of a camera you can’t run and you can’t hide. We will not allow people to behave in a threatening manner and we will use out extensive CCTV network to track them down, so I’m delighted we could work with the police and have this individual removed from the streets for the public’s protection.”

Spit costs £615

A Plumstead man was caught spitting and dropping litter outside the Woolwich Arsenal DLR station, but ignored an original fine, issued by Royal Borough of Greenwich town centre wardens in February. An appeal against the fixed penalty notice, denying the offences, was rejected. Bromley Magistrates on November 14 ordered him to pay a fine of £95, a £20 victim surcharge and a £500 towards court costs.

Jackie Smith, the Royal Borough’s cabinet member for Community Safety and Environment, said: “We have rules in place to protect our environment for the benefit of everyone. People who behave in an unacceptable way and litter our public spaces, and spit in them, can expect to be given penalty notices by our town centre wardens. If these are then subsequently ignored, they can then expect to be made to pay an even heavier penalty.”

The borough town centre wardens are authorised to issue fixed penalty notices to people they see urinating, spitting and littering, under the Environmental Protection Act.


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