MPA Conference of 2009 – Policing with Authority

blue street lamp outside of Metropolitan Police stations

blue street lamp outside of Metropolitan Police stations

was the fourth such conference in total but the first one for me to attend. Called Policing with Authority. I missed the authority and a clear strategic vision.

I perceived it to be a public relations exercise. I was amazed not to find one uniformed police officer in the conference and also missed police giving input on question and answer sessions, it would have been very appropriate for them to do so.

Instead the workshop I attended played around with words and asked attending civilians whether they like the wording of police literature or not.

I missed concrete strategic discussion; police cadets were not mentioned once, nor where voluntary police officers. Also despite the MPA brochure showing mainly young persons on the cover, only ‘young’ persons attended the conference.

A public relations exercise with no more positive effect than networking for those who operate in those circles and were glad to meet like minded persons.

I was pleased to see Justin Moore, our chair from the Police and Community Safety Board, but Councillor Ullah disappeared from my view 1/4 into the conference.

Also not in attendance Deputy Major Kit Malthouse, whose end speech would have been my highlight of the day.

It did not feel like a Police Convention at all. It lacked direction and in the question and answer session the issue of Social Services as Crime Preventers and police as law enforcers came up. I say this as I feel that the police carry out more and more social work jobs, especially with their deployment of PCSO and voluntary officers.

I asked off the record, how the foreseeable change in government would affect the now half-way implemented policies but got only vague answers. I am not satisfied that the system we have in place now is effective. We have no proper accountability and no statistics on Drug related crimes can be found on the Metropolitan Police website.

I think this is an expensive way of policing London especially as the most effective way to promote voluntary participation in the fight against crime has been cut to zero, e.g. Neighbourhood Watch Schemes do no longer get funding.

I find there is no accountable structure in policing of London. Local Safer Neighbourhood Teams have no policy obligation on how to communicate with communities other than with Safer Neighbourhood Panels and those panels are attended by all sorts of persons, whether TRA or Neighbourhood Watch members. I dislike this scheme as with a Neighbourhood Watch coordinator you get naturally a much greater commitment to bridge the police – community divide as you get it from a TRA member.

It would be interesting to bridge the gap in information exchange by linking up outer and inner London boroughs to learn and get a comparison to law and order success and failure.

Unfortunately in my view, the police service as we knew it has been dismantled by the Labour government. Several of our local police stations in the borough have been closed. Those police stations provided continuity with officers permanently stationed there who knew the locality and the local knew them. We now repeatedly hear complaints that PCSO officer are appointed only for short periods, stay for 1 – 2 years and often do not know the locality they are deployed in. Locals do not get to know them and altogether I find it unsatisfactory that local police stations and Neighbourhood Watch Schemes have been replaced with Safer Neighbourhood Panels.

Community engagement awards went to Camden Police and Community Group and Richmod Upon Thames scooped first prize for a Home visiting scheme to care for elderly and vulnerable residents in their area.

On Tuesday we have the Question and Answer session in the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood here in Tower Hamlets and I shall be interested in the questions asked there.

I wish I had attended Armed Forces Day instead.

The Conservative Party has released a paper called End the early release of prisoners. Apparently on the local level I am not aware what impact this early release has on my community and how many crimes are committed by such early released in my local area.  See also about less custodial sentencing for Drug related offences.

One fact that was mentioned is that the majority of BNP voters are young people and in my view they only vote BNP because they want authority and they are not getting it today. Police has to go back to proper policing or risk driving our young generation to a political agenda that is not desirable.

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