Manifesto - Safer Communities

A quick glance through the pages of Greenwich Time or a local paper filled with Council press releases would give you the impression that we live in a crime free haven and that Greenwich is becoming an increasingly safe place to live.

 

 However, as one famous Conservative politician put it, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics” and our experience is that there is more crime in Greenwich and residents are increasingly sceptical about reporting crimes to the police as they feel they are unlikely to take any action. Anecdotal evidence suggests to us that crime is on the rise and people feel increasingly unsafe in their homes.

Recently Conservative Councillors collected signatures on a petition in what is perceived to be one of the safest parts of our borough and were confronted by a residents being overwhelmed by the amount of ‘anti-social behaviour’ they experienced. The tales they told us included:-

  • Wheelie bins being piled in the middle of the road, overturned or set on fire;
  • Christmas decorations being torn down and smashed; 
  • Resident’s sons being assaulted (happy slapped) and their houses being attacked;
  • Mopeds being ridden up and down the road illegally;
  • Cars being damaged;
  • A 13 year old boy vomiting with alcohol outside a house.

This was a shocking litany of crime, almost none of which had been reported to the police (unless the resident needed a crime number for an insurance claim).

In December 1997, the number of police officers in the borough was 612. In April 2002 the number budgeted for fell to 576.

Greenwich Conservatives would oppose any cuts in police numbers in Greenwich and will endeavour to increase police numbers if possible.

 

In particular, we pledge, if elected, to abolish Greenwich Time and use the money saved to fund an additional six beat officers.

We believe that there is a need for more visible policing in Greenwich, specifically beat officers on foot, to deter crime and reduce people’s fear of it. While we welcome the introduction of PCSOs, we see them as an addition to Police Officers, not a replacement for them.

We will lobby the Metropolitan Police Authority accordingly, both to increase police numbers and to enable them to take neighbourhood policing seriously so that beat officers see their role as custodians of their neighbourhood, co-operating with the public and voluntary agencies to obtain proper intelligence on street crime.

We welcome the introduction of Safer Neighbourhood Teams, with the proviso that they do not decrease the number of warranted Police Officers on our streets.

A Conservative Council would argue for all police stations to be open for 24 hours a day and would fight any plans to sell off stations for flats (as has happened in Shooters Hill). In addition, we would ensure that local police stations advertised their numbers and had someone available to take calls from the public rather than all calls be routed via one call  centre as happens at present.


Whether right or not, the impression has taken hold in the minds of many residents that the police will not deal adequately with actions perceived to be minor crimes, often termed anti-social behaviour. In our opinion, many of the complaints in this regard result from too much police time being spent on excessive paperwork and insufficient police numbers on our streets.

There are three specific ways in which we believe that the Council can deal more effectively with minor crime: 

 

1. Issue more anti-social behaviour orders:

There is a substantial variation in the number of Anti Social Behaviour orders issued across London. Since 1999, when the powers came into effect, Greenwich has issued only 19 ASBOs, while Camden has issued 92 and Bexley 20. In our borough, the Labour Party have preferred to use parenting orders and Acceptable Behaviour Agreements to attempt to control situations. We do not believe that this approach is working and would shift the balance of work to Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, which would have legal effect when breached.

 

2. Improved/better focused youth services:

Conservatives would combine the increased use of ASBOs with a review of youth services, focused on the areas where there are specific problems with youth crime to try and ensure that young people are not unnecessarily seen as a problem.

 

3. Ensuring motorbikes used illegally are crushed quickly:

Many residents are concerned by the illegal use of motorbikes, whether on roads or in the woods/parks (where tracks have been created in certain areas). At present the police have confiscated very few of the motorbikes and had them crushed. We would encourage the police to use this power and would provide the equipment needed to crush the confiscated vehicles quickly and efficiently.

 

The new licensing laws have placed a much greater responsibility on licensees to act in the correct way when selling alcohol to customers.
A Conservative Council would take a much stronger line with licensees who broke the terms of their licence by selling to customers under the age of 18. Serious fines, the withdrawal of the licence for a fixed period or permanently are all part of the powers given to Councils within the new licensing act and we would look to ensure that those people who choose to break this law suffer such a great financial penalty that they do not think it worth doing it again.