I serve on the Police Authority Board and two of its sub committees approving the City of London’s Policing strategy and scrutinising performance. In addition, I am the lead committee member for equality, diversity and human rights, as well as anti-social behaviour and community relations, and I am a member of the cyber security working group and Safer City Partnership. As a former Special Constable policing is something that is close to my heart.
The City of London is one of the safest cities in the world, which is a testament to the commitment of our police officers. But 2018 saw an in-year rise of 26% crime being reported in the Square Mile. Crime is on the rise across England and Wales. This follows years of government cuts, which are now starting to bite. The City Police of course needs to look at efficient use of current resources, but we also need to look at funding levels to ensure the City remains an attractive place for everyone to work, life and visit.
The issue of begging in the City is something which is often raised with me as a local representative. It’s important to recognise that begging in the Square Mile isn’t following same pattern as other boroughs. For example 90% of beggers are not rough sleepers in the City. Often beggers ‘commute’ into the City and many are in supported accomodation. One of the areas I’ve asked the City Police to look at is organised begging and criminal groups.
In 2018 we secured support for a more proactive approach by the City Police in addressing begging in the City through an important project called ‘Operation Luscombe‘ – which sees the City Police working with partners such as St Mungos, Homerton Sexual Health and drugs and alcohol advice colleagues at new Intervention Hub project tackling begging in the City.
First indications are positive with reporting of begging going down, but we need to continue to measure to assess the impact. More importantly however the project gives officers positive tool to engage with beggars, offering support, whilst at the same time building up a strong case should they need to take legal action – in particular in the case of organised begging or criminal groups.
Night-time economy & anti-social behaviour
The night-time economy in the City is markedly different to five or six years ago. We now have over 900 licensed premises in a very small area, the majority of which are open 7 days a week until the early hours of the morning, bringing more visitors to the City than ever before. With this in mind, it is hardly a surprise that alcohol-related offences are on the rise, but the City Police has put in place some measures which look like they are starting to pay off.
As a member of the Police Authority Board I’ll closely monitor progress, and encourage the City Police and City Corporation (licensing teams, night time levy etc.) to work closely together. In addition, I have asked the Police Commissioner to report back on impact of changing trends across the City contributing to the rising levels of crime.
As part of the Safer City Partnership the City Police and partners are now going to develop an anti-social behaviour strategy and look at impact of the night time economy on policing. In addition, the City Police has after interventions from myself and other councillors added anti-social behaviour to the strategic policing priorities.