Autumn update on Crime in South Camden

The current Police resources reported by the Metropolitan Police Service have been updated to show:

Bloomsbury Ward - has 6 Police Constables (PCs) + I Police Community Support Officer (PCSO)

+ 1 Sergeant

Holborn / Covent Garden Ward - has 5 PCs + 1 PCSO

Kings Cross Ward - has 3 PCs + 2 PCSOs + 1 Sergeant

Analysis of crime data

 

The graph above shows a large increase in the Total Crime for both Holborn/Covent Garden and Bloomsbury during October, while Total Crime for Camden Town continues to decline and now has half the level of Total Crime compared to both Bloomsbury and Holborn/Covent Garden. The escalation appears to have been driven by the increase in ‘other theft’ and ‘theft from a person’. 

The Rolling 12-Total Crime shows the continue rise in crime and the three Southern Camden Wards account for 40% of all the crime in Camden. The percentage change in the Total Crime Rate shows a continued increasing rate of Crime for both Bloomsbury and Holborn/Covent Garden.

 

Analysis of all three South Camden Wards shows there are a total of 20 streets or locations where the 12-month rolling crime levels in the highest crime streets have increased by 40-80% in the year. In terms of crime levels, both Bloomsbury and Holborn/Covent Garden have 3 times the Borough average and increases of 3 times the National Average. 

 

We are concerned that a lack of reporting (due to apathy or a feeling of ‘will it make any difference’) might affect the figures released for Kings Cross ward.

 

Campaigning for more police and CCTV resources

 

The call for more police is being answered with the numbers for Bloomsbury being increased to 6PC and for Holborn /Covent Garden 8PC with two being financed by business. Although we have huge crime figures, it is unlikely we could get more police and we have to hope they will all arrive and stay. The police will shortly have electric cycles to combat cycle assisted crime. 

 

Our community * believes that to assist the police to reduce the level of crime that the police would be aided by a CCTV system that covers those streets experiencing high increases in crime. It also gives the Police good evidence in cases that can be prosecuted. We know the Council will be installing a wireless network to cover the whole borough and that the location of the cameras can be decided after installation of the net. 

 

The police issued 20 Community CPN's to individuals around Russell Square Tube and are proposing other areas. This does seem to have reduced the problem. [A Community Protection Notice (CPN) is aimed to prevent unreasonable behaviour that is having a negative impact on the local community's quality of life.]

 

The campaign for more police resources to tackle the problem has resulted in meetings with councillors, the police and Andrew Dismore, who is currently the London Assembly member for Camden and Barnet and sits on the LA Police and Crime Committee.  He undertook to see if he could get the issue of crime in the West End and its potential serious effect on residents, visitors and workers on the agenda at a future committee meeting. It has been expressed by all concerned that there is an urgent need to tackle the problem. *

 

Central government reaps a rich sales tax (VAT) harvest from the millions of visitors to this area every year. The British Museum is the nation’s number one tourist attraction. The concentration of hospitals and university services fuel the daily commuter influx to build a honey pot for the government and criminals alike. It’s not unreasonable to expect this central ‘money tree’ to enjoy appropriate policing

 

The fact that tourists feel unsafe in Bloomsbury was raised at the meeting with Andrew Dismore. He subsequently asked the Mayor a written question in connection with this issue: What assessment have you made of the impact on tourism and the economy of central London of the fast-rising crime rates in Bloomsbury and the West End?

 

On the 6th November, the Mayor replied: “Through London and Partners, my team continues to keep a close eye on the benefits of tourism to the London economy. I am aware that safety is often a consideration for those visiting our city. The work that L&P does to promote London internationally is vital in ensuring that we remain appealing to tourists, and I’m pleased to say that our tourism numbers remain strong despite Brexit. We do not have specific data on the perceived impact of crime on the local economies of Bloomsbury and the West End and indeed it would be difficult to disaggregate the data that we do hold and easily attribute elements of it on the impact of crime.”

 

Although there was no mention of the impact of crime on residents and businesses, we feel that the issue is - at last – on the radar of someone with influence.

 

Working together

 

BRAG believes that it is crucial that community and residents’ groups / associations work together as much as possible to reinforce the fact that Residents’ Matter!

 

As noted above a well-attended meeting with Andrew Dismore, London Assembly member for Camden and Barnet, took place on 26 October 2019 in the Panorama Room at the Imperial Hotel, Russell Square. There was representation from a wide range of local groups within the three south Camden wards of Bloomsbury, Holborn & Covent Garden and Kings Cross, emphasising the importance of community cohesion, even if on individual topics there may be differences of opinion.

 

Those who attended the meeting with Andrew Dismore included his assistant Arjun Mittra and Dave Hodges, from Camden Neighbourhood Policing Teams. The were representatives from the Bedford Estate, Bloomsbury Association, Bloomsbury Residents Action Group, Bloomsbury SNP Panel, Calthorpe Community Garden, Chenies Mews Working Group, Covent Garden Community Association, Endsleigh Court Residents Association, Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association, Gordon Mansions Residents Association, Holborn Voice, Imperial Hotel, Kings Cross SNP, Marchmont Association, Red Lion TRA and the University of London.

 

BRAG committee members attend meetings and are forwarded information from various groups including the Safer Neighbourhood Teams for both Bloomsbury and Kings Cross, Bloomsbury Association, Marchmont Association, Rugby & Harpur Residents Association, Holborn Community Centre, Red Lion TRA, Friends of St George's Gardens, Bloomsbury Conservation Area Advisory Committee (BCAAC), Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood Forum and Friends of Argyle Square. These groups in turn have meetings with useful bodies such as the Police and Bedford Estates. The passing on of information within the three wards of South Camden is important.

 

 

The call for extra police resources has been specifically endorsed by the following community groups and local councillors.

 

Bloomsbury Association, Marchmont Association, the SNTEK Panel, Bloomsbury Residents Action Group, South Bloomsbury Residents Association, 54 Russell Square Residents Group, Chenies Mews Working Group, Gordon Mansions Residents Association, Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association, Cranfield House Residents Association, Friends of Argyle Square, Red Lion Tenants and Residents Association, Jessel House Residents Association, Rugby & Harpur Residents Association, Knollys House Residents' Association, Endsleigh Court Residents Association, Somerton House RA, Covent Garden Community Association, Yardowl Ltd. for Tavistock Court, Holborn Voice, Holiday Inn Hotel, Bloomsbury Hotel, Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel, Brunswick Shopping Centre, the Bedford Estate, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Russell Square Underground Station, Individual Residents and Businesses (Tesco Express, Pret a Manger, Landmark Space) with other groups consulting their members. Also endorsed by the following Camden Councillors: Nadia Shah (Cabinet Member for Safer Communities), Julian Fulbrook (Holborn & Covent Garden), Sue Vincent (Holborn & Covent Garden), Awale Olad, (Holborn & Covent Garden) Rishi Madlani, (Bloomsbury), Jonathan Simpson (Councillor), and Camden Council Officers.

Archive information:  June 2019 update

 

We support the work of our Police and understand the limited resources that they have at their disposal. BRAG and the Bloomsbury Association - supported by a growing list of local groups and businesses - are nevertheless campaigning to increase police resources in the three wards of South Camden. We feel, as stated in the Metropolitan Police Review, that the level of crime IS a measure of the resources required. 

 

In Bloomsbury Ward, total crime has increased from 369 to 748 crimes per month in two years with an increasing upward trend. This is 3 times the Camden Ward average. The “crimes per officer” ratio is an incredible 187 crimes per officer per month! It is very clear that the numbers of police do not match the level of crime in both Holborn/Covent Garden and Bloomsbury where the police have to deal with 3 or 4 times as much crime as in the rest of the borough. 

 

The Analysis on Bloomsbury Crime [which can be downloaded HERE] includes information from the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee Policing for the future Tenth Report of Session 2017–19. The summary concludes:  Policing is struggling to cope in the face of changing and rising crimes, as a result of falling staff numbers, outdated technology, capabilities and structures, and fragmented leadership and direction. Without significant reform and investment, communities will be increasingly let down.  Many ‘volume’ crimes, including robbery, theft from the person, and vehicle related theft, have been increasing sharply after a long period of decline. While recorded crimes have risen by 32% in the last three years, the number of charges or summons has decreased by 26%, and the number of arrests is also down. Neighbourhood policing, which is vital to the service’s response to many types of crime, is being eroded: we found that forces had lost at least a fifth of their neighbourhood policing capacity, on average, since 2010. 

 

Crime levels in Bloomsbury have increased by 100% over two years, three times the level considered in the report over two years rather than three.  This is a staggeringly large increase relative to the reported statistic and does indeed point to the community being let down.

 

The Mayor’s office is determined to restore neighbourhood policing, by putting 2 dedicated Ward Officers and PCSOs (who know and are known to the communities they serve) back at the heart of London. They say they will go beyond this minimum level of coverage, enabling those wards to have more dedicated Ward Officers. “Delivering policing where and when today’s Londoners need it.”

 

Additional police resources are required in Holborn/Covent Garden and Bloomsbury to satisfy the demand for crime prevention services. The increase in magnitude of crime can be accounted for by the presence in these wards of the country’s top visitor attraction (the British Museum), London's major universities (University of London and UCL), major teaching hospitals (UCH and GOSH), many hotels, shopping, theatres and businesses all of which increase the day time population 10 fold compared to the resident population. The major shopping destinations of Oxford Street and Covent Garden are also close by. This compares with residential wards which have a reduced day time population

 

We are in no way suggesting taking officers away from other wards but asking for what the mayor is offering: “more Dedicated Ward Officers for the most vulnerable wards”.

 

Ward boundaries go down the middle of the street and are very odd shapes. The boundaries are driven by getting the same population in the ward to balance the voting requirement. Crime does not respect these boundaries. Our suggestion is to combine the three wards south of the Euston Road into one police impact zone. On this basis, at least there is only one Camden coordinated high crime zone, and you would not then get to a situation as in Bloomsbury where there was only 1 PC and 1 PCSO. It would then be easier to take a future step to integrate or coordinate Camden with the Westminster crime areas. 

 

The understanding of SNT (Safer Neighbourhood Team) is that there are permanent dedicated officers that get to know their areas and the population in that area. With the number of police at Holborn Station it should be possible to be organised in this way, with each officer having charge over defined areas. 

 

The March 2019 crime figures give 41% of the total crime being in these three wards and with 64 PC/PCSOs in the Camden on average this means 25 officers should be in this area while at the moment there are only 15. We would therefore press for an additional 10 officers to deal not only with the current crime but with the increases in crime that are taking place at three times the national rate of increase.

 

To help tackle the crime with the extra police resource it is proposed to seek new electric cycles to combat cycle assisted robbery, CCTV in the crime hot spots, removal of crime-based phone boxes. There may be other initiatives' that could jointly suggested and developed with the police and the community.

 

We would like to appeal to our Councillors, the Mayor and Home Office to call for more resources to help the Police in the Camden Wards South of the Euston Road.