Darren Williams on seasonal crime and more...
With now only 12 more sleeps to go until Christmas we are seeing the seasonal influx of tourists, Christmas shoppers and celebratory events across our wonderful borough.
To ensure that you can all enjoy this period safely we started our Christmas and New Year initiative on December 1 to provide an increased and visible presence on the streets and in your neighbourhoods to tackle crime and anti social behaviour.
We are building on our success from last Christmas where we targeted alcohol-related violence, license breaches and theft, and have added in two new aspects this year.
A new approach will target those who take advantage of this time of year to commit sexual offences and add focus on protecting vulnerable people and missing young people.
We will do this in the following ways;
• Increasing our patrols (both uniform and plain clothes) in our busiest areas (town centres, transport hubs and shopping areas) at our busiest times
• Plain-clothed and uniform officers will be working in and around licensed premises to identify potential sexual offenders and others who pose a risk to vulnerable people, taking action to reduce the opportunity for sexual offences taking place.
• Joint working with charities the NCPCC and Missing People to identify and support vulnerable and missing young people
• Working with partners to create 'safe zones' at transport hubs where members of the public out at night can access advice on how to get home safely.
• Covert operations and high-visibility patrols by to tackle theft and pickpockets, along with cab operations targeting ‘touting’ and ‘plying for hire’ to improve the safety of those who use taxis and minicabs to get home after a night out.
• Visits to licensed premises targeting offences including licence breaches by venues and the selling of knives, alcohol, cigarettes and fireworks to under-age customers
• Weapons sweeps on estates
• Officers will be engaging with schools around personal safety and providing an increased presence on routes to and from school.
• The proactive enforcement of dispersal zones targeting anti-social behaviour and controlled drinking zones.
• Officers issuing personal safety advice to the public.
So, is it working so far? Well, we have arrested eight people for shop lifting, there has been a 50% reduction in thefts from handbags, and so far we have reduced violence by 31% on the same period last year. We must not be complacent about this though and I need to remind you all that we all have a responsibility to ensure our personal safety.
You will all remember that a few months ago I talked about how, every year for the last five years, burglary has increased in the months proceeding Christmas. I gave a number of presentations of this data to groups, stakeholders and partners across the borough and explained what we were going to do to try and reverse that trend. The most recent data (1st Nov - 10th Dec) shows that;
One thing that has appeared as a significant feature over the last few months is the high proportion of residential burglaries where Asian gold has been stolen. We very much suspect that these are specifically targeted burglaries where the offenders travel in from across London (and sometimes much further) to steal from our homes.
The main problem affecting non-residential burglary is bicycles stolen from sheds or garages. In many of these the sheds or garages have little or no security, which means we have little chance of catching those who are doing this unless you call 999 as it is happening.
This brings me on to my final point. I have looked at our last 25 burglaries. In only four of these did someone pick up the phone and call 999 - despite the fact that some neighbours later told police they "thought they may have seen something suspicious". Not only is 4/25 one of the lowest anywhere in London it massively reduces our chances of catching burglars when they are breaking into you homes. You are all the best security device ever created.
Please call us if you ever see, hear or even suspects something or someone is suspicious - especially when it is near you or your neighbours home, shed or garage.
Finally, our followers on twitter (@MPSMerton) will know that for the last couple of months we have been working with our friends ay Doxa Deo and many others on a Christmas initiative to provide a complete Christmas Dinner for our most financially in need people this year.
Unfortunately for many people living in Merton, the Christmas holidays are not a joyful experience and meeting the essential needs of life can so overwhelming that a festive celebration at Christmas is not only inconceivable, but financially impossible. Therefore I am absolutely delighted to tell you that we have managed to raise enough money to provide a complete Christmas meal for over 2,500 people this year.
Thank you so much to everyone who has been involved in arranging this, in particular Ioannis and Ian at Doxa Deo. A massive thank you also must go to Siobhan McDonagh MP, Stephen Hammond MP, Leader of Merton Council, Stephen Alambritis and Richard Lewis, Chief Executive of AELTC at Wimbledon who have all donated auction items that we have been able to transform into meals for our most in need people.
I have one more (technically two) requests in relation to this. Next Friday (20th) at Morden Baptist Church a team of volunteers will begin the task of packing all the meals into the 500 hampers that will go out across Merton and on the Saturday (21st) the Hampers will be delivered to those receiving them.
If any of you can help with either or both of these events, please get in touch with Ian Jacob via email firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone 07809 646575. This has been an amazing project involving people all across Merton and it would make it even more special if more people could help with the final stages.
That is about all for this week - keep safe, remember to lock up and leave lights on if you are going out and keep your valuables close by in crowded places."
December 13, 2013