Crime figures are on the up in Croydon, yet the Town Hall’s most senior politicians have received a misleading report from council officers this month that claimed that residents believe “the council is tackling crime and anti-social behaviour”.
According to the “Community Safety Strategy” which was submitted to the council’s June cabinet meeting, Croydon in 2011 had the fifth highest overall crime figures in the whole of the capital. It is one league where the politicos at the Town Hall and their mate Boris at City Hall have seen Croydon climb the table: in 2010, Croydon was seventh.
Of course, some element of that spike in criminality will relate to the August 2011 riots, but one of the shocking statistics in the report was that through 2011 there were 33 more knife crimes in Croydon than the previous year.
Meanwhile, what do our police find themselves doing? As police numbers have been cut in the borough, there are ever greater demands on officers’ time.
Last weekend, police were in the centre of town on Saturday afternoon as a visible deterrent – because of a recent increase in the number of burglaries. Even in Croydon, your average Burglar Bill normally waits until after dark, and seeks to break in to residential properties in the suburbs, so this smacked of little more than a PR operation by the boys, and girls, in blue.
Then, last Friday evening, as England warmed up for their Euro2012 match against Sweden, officers were deployed in Croydon town centre again, this time “to keep fans safe”. That’s Scotland Yard spin for being on hand for any outbreaks of drunken disorder from the packed pubs. Sadly, the English have developed a reputation for being bad losers when drink has been taken. Fortunately for the police, Theo Walcott did much to avoid any unseemly nastiness.
Nonetheless, some of Croydon’s senior officers find themselves on duty for 16 hours at a stretch on some days. Worse may be yet to come.
Next month, many officers from outer boroughs, including Croydon, will be on duty in central London to help security for the Olympics. We’ve known that the Olympics were coming to our city for seven years; and so have enterprising criminals.
With police morale at an all-time low, following a series of cut-backs and widespread redundancies among senior officers, the decision of the Home Secretary to appoint the non-policeman, rail regulator Tom Winsor as chief inspector of constabulary seems designed to cause ever more disaffection.
All of which may yet impact the 2012 Croydon crime figures.
According to the report submitted to the council cabinet this month total recorded crime in 2011-2012 was 32,753, up from 32,306 the previous year.
Other findings of the report included:
- Safer Croydon Partnership analysed five violent crime types between Nov 2010 and Oct 2011. The top two categories were GBH with intent and GBH serious wounding. Nice.
- The majority of these crimes occurred in the north of the borough.
- The highest volume of most serious violent offences were in Fairfield (the town centre), which accounts for more than 25 per cent of all violent crime in Croydon. The wards with the next highest figures were Broad Green, Selhurst and West Thornton.
A survey conducted by the council asked residents “How do you rate overall levels of crime in Croydon compared to a year ago?”
They had run the same set of questions a year earlier. In 2010, 11 per cent had answered “much greater”. In 2011, 27 per cent said that crime was “much greater”. With 24 per cent of respondents saying crime was “slightly greater”, giving a total of 51 per cent, public perceptions are clearly that crime is getting worse.
Yet in the report prepared by council officers and delivered to Croydon’s ruling Conservative group this month, the senior councillors were told: “Most participants agreed that the police and the council are tackling crime and anti-social behaviour.”
Does Croydon’s £248,000 chief executive Jon Rouse know that his staff are deliberately delivering such thoroughly misleading reports to council leader Mike Fisher and his team? And did any of Fisher’s top team read the whole report and realise that they were being fed a line?
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