Petition to: reinstate CCTV on Church Street, Lisson Grove NW8, and for the funding for four additional dedicated ward Metropolitan Police Officers

This petition is now closed, as its deadline has passed.

We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to reinstate CCTV on Church Street, Lisson Grove NW8, and for the funding for four additional dedicated ward Metropolitan Police Officers. More details

Petition update from the council, 20 May 2019

RESPONSE TO PETITION: “FOR THE REINSTATEMENT OF CCTV ON CHURCH STREET, LISSON GROVE, NW8, AND FOR THE FUNDING FOR FOUR ADDITIONAL DEDICATED METROPOLITAN POLICE SERVICE WARD OFFICERS”

1. Executive Summary

This report considers the petition that requested the following:

“Signatories to this petition request that Westminster Council act in the interests of security and safety of their shop tenants, the business community, their customers, residents and the community as a whole by re-instating police surveillance cameras (CCTV), and actively support funding for at least four additional dedicated beat officers for a more visible street presence in the Church Street Ward, and that the Office of the Mayor (MOPAC) allocate the required funding.”
The petition comprising 221 signatures was presented by Councillor Aicha Less to Full Council on Wednesday 23rd January 2019.


2. Recommendations

2.1 The Metropolitan Police Service is responsible for the operational deployment, ownership and development of the CCTV service in the City of Westminster. It is therefore recommended that the City Council formally write to the Metropolitan Police Service, seeking a review and consideration of the appropriateness of CCTV in the location of Church Street.

2.2 Members of the community, who have expressed their concerns about visible police presence on the streets and who ask for additional dedicated beat officers within the Petition, are encouraged to support the City Council’s campaign to improve policing in Westminster, by raising their concerns about local police provision directly with those responsible. As such, to write the Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service and the Deputy Mayor for Policing, making it clear that they ask for an increase in the number of Dedicated Ward Officers (DWOs) in the Church Street area.

3. Background, including Policy Context

3.1 Closed Circuit TV Provision
The ownership and responsibility for the operational deployment and maintenance of the Westminster City CCTV capability was transferred to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in 2017 following a Full Council decision to no longer deploy CCTV as a local authority service. A significant capital investment of £1.5m was provided to the MPS by Westminster City Council to both facilitate the transfer and to update the current CCTV provision within the city. (Westminster Council Cabinet Report dated 6th June 2016 – Crime and Disorder CCTV). Prior to the transfer and whilst under local authority ownership, a number of cameras were decommissioned following a continuous review process assessing the effectiveness and need of each camera. The CCTV provision within the area of Church Street was reduced as a result of the decommissioning process, leaving just two operational cameras. Neither of these two cameras would have provided the required monitoring in the areas mentioned within the petition. Whilst the police and local authority have a statutory responsibility to reduce crime, it is also important to recognise that all residents and businesses have a responsibility to make every effort to reduce the possibility of becoming a victim of crime. Support is available from the statutory agencies to businesses to assess vulnerability and to recommend measures to reduce any identified risk.


3.2 Police deployment and resource allocation

The funding and allocation of police resources to London Boroughs is the statutory responsibility of the Mayor for London. The Mayor’s Office for Police and Crime (MOPAC) has oversight of policing functions, holding the MPS to account.

3.3 In recent months, the Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Licensing has received representations from colleagues concerned about the effectiveness of community and neighbourhood policing in their areas. The council has enormous sympathy and concern for members of the community who have become victims of crime and anti-social behaviour and is greatly concerned regarding the shrinking police resources on Westminster streets.The Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Licensing have voiced these concerns to the police, citing residents’ perception that there is a ‘walk-on by’ culture approach to low level anti-social or criminal behaviour.

3.4 In order to ensure our communities’ voices are heard, we have invited key stakeholders to write to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime and Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police to share experiences in their areas. The council would encourage signatories on the petition to support this approach and write a letter accordingly.

3.5 Westminster Council also remains highly concerned about the proposals to significantly reduce the number of neighbourhood police in Westminster as part of the merger of Basic Command Units. From 2017 to 2018 crime increased in Church Street ward by 13%, this is a greater rate than across the Metropolitan Police Service (2%) and across Westminster as a whole (10%).

3.6 In recent years MOPAC has offered London Local Authorities the opportunity to participate in the Patrol Plus Scheme. This provided cross-matched funding opportunities to increase police officer numbers through the ‘purchase’ of officers by local authorities , receiving two additional officers for the cost of one. At the time of the offer, the City Council took the decision not to participate in the scheme, preferring to adopt an integrated team approach with police and partners, e.g. the Integrated Gangs Unit (IGU). The City council also had concerns over the long- term financial sustainability of the scheme. At the end of 2018 MOPAC signalled its intention to abandon the scheme placing operational and financial risks within councils who opted to participate.

4. Partnership work

4.1 The City Council continues to work in partnership with our local police teams to ensure a safe City for All. Our restructured neighbourhood teams work closely with ward officers on the streets in their area and on specific projects such as the integrated gangs unit, youth offending team and Soho Angles initiative. Our regeneration projects drive our aspiration for improved lives and a better City for all. The policing changes put forward risk undermining the quality of life for our residents, businesses and visitors alike.

5. Financial Implications

There are no financial implications attached to this report

6. Legal Implications

There are no legal implications attached to this report

7. Staffing Implications

There are no staffing implications attached to this report.

More details from petition creator

It is the view of the signatories to this petition, that because street cameras have been withdrawn, and police officer numbers have been cut, perpetrators of crime are encouraged by the knowledge that they are unlikely to be identified, their actions recorded or caught. It is the view of the signatories of this petition that Church Street has become a target for thieves, and shop owners and staff have been on the receiving end of anti-social and threatening behaviour.

LOSS OF CONFIDENENCE IN THE VIABILITY OF CHURCH STREET AS A RETAIL LOCATION

Where no effective action is taken to address rising crime in Church Street, the morale of shopkeepers, and their incentive to run a business there may decline, leading to the possible loss of some of Westminster' corporate tenants and the attachment of a permanent reputation for Church Street as a difficult location for trade.

INSUFFICIENT POLICE RESOURCES

Despite their excellent work, we are aware of the limitations placed on policing in that there are only two dedicated beat officers and over 11 000 residents in the Ward.

ACTION SOUGHT

Signatories to this petition request that Westminster Council act in the interests security and safety of their shop tenants, the business community, their customers, residents and the community as a whole by re-instating police surveillance cameras, and actively support funding for at least four additional dedicated beat officers for more visible Police street presence in the Church Street Ward, and that the Office of the Mayor allocate the required funding.

Current signatories

Councillor Aicha Less, the petition creator, joined by:

  • 223 offline signatures