Issue No3: CRIME
THE ISSUE: Unanimity among the political parties on crime: they’re all agin it.
Crime ought to be a more pressing issue in the local elections in Croydon: there has been a spate of stabbings and murders on our streets already this year, and areas of the borough still carry the scars, physical and psychological, from the riots in August 2011.
Yet the Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has in the past two years closed all bar one of the borough’s police stations, and the true number of officers on duty in Croydon is still a matter of some dispute.
The Tories in Croydon have brazenly misled people about crime figures in the borough, with the cabinet member responsible, Simon Hoar, putting out election material claiming that “Croydon has become a safer place,” when the Met’s own statistics directly contradict that, with more murders, more rapes and sexual assaults, and more “crimes against the person” in Croydon in the year to March 2014 than there had been in the previous 12-month period. But then, as Dixon of Dock Green might have said, Hoar’s got form when it comes to telling lies at election time.
Croydon’s Tories have even made their own contribution to the crime rate by getting the borough’s chief executive Nathan Elvery to repeat Hoar’s bogus claims on the council’s supposedly non-political website during the period of “election purdah”.
THE BACKGROUND: Policing is under London-wide control, but the local council can try to influence some aspects of policy in the borough. With Steve O’Connell, the Conservative councillor for Kenley also the London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton, it might be reasonable to expect that Croydon’s particular problems with crime might have attracted better attention.
But no. It is almost as it the Conservatives at Croydon Town Hall, who have been in charge of the borough since 2006, don’t want to make too much fuss and cause any difficulties for Mayor Boris. “We will continue to press for our fair share of police resources” is as feeble a promise as it sounds.
The role of senior councillors such as O’Connell and the council leader, Mike Fisher, plus the then borough police commander and the borough’s CEO in the hours leading up to the infamous 8/8 riots have never been subjected to a proper, independent inquiry.
The appointment of Chief Superintendent David Musker as borough commander in September 2011 was portrayed as a get-tough measure to stiffen the backbone in the police’s battle against crime in Croydon. After a spate of half-a-dozen stabbings in the first few months of 2014, that’s hardly been a success, and Musker is understood soon to be leaving Croydon.
THE 2014 CROYDON MANIFESTO PROMISES:
- Conservative: The Croydon Tories don’t have a borough-wide manifesto, so it’s hard to say whether they have any policy on crime. But they have been caught telling lies about Croydon being a safer place.
- Labour: Have promised to spend more money on extra neighbourhood police and more CCTV cameras. Funding for the Family Justice Centre would be restored. Croydon is reputedly the most CCTV’d borough in the capital – so ensuring that the footage is monitored properly might be a start.
- LibDems: Would place greater emphasis on neighbourhood policing partnerships, which is something that might play well in the established communities to the south of the borough, but is perhaps less effective in norhern wards where the population tends to be more transitory.
- UKIP: As UKIP does not have a party whip, even if they do manage to get a handful of councillors elected to the Town Hall, once there they are free to vote as they wish. So anything they promise now is virtually worthless. UKIP wants a zero-tolerance approach to petty crime, and they want to extend no-alcohol zones to parks. There goes the summer picnics on Farthing Downs.
- Greens: To reduce knife crime, would offer free self-defence classes so people no longer felt the need to carry weapons.
INSIDE CROYDON’S ELECTION VERDICT: The Tories used to be the party of law and order. August 8, 2011, and the aftermath in the months and years that have followed has shown that in Croydon, at least, the Conservatives cannot be relied upon to ensure the safety of people and property.
Youth crime, particularly knife crime, remains at troubling levels.
Better education, more services aimed at the borough’s youth, and more fully trained police on our streets are simple enough strategies which the current Town Hall administration has failed to deliver in eight years.
Inside Croydon’s recent coverage of the local elections:
- Policy analysis 1: The incinerator
- Policy analysis 2: Hammersfield
- ADDISCOMBE: Labour looking vulnerable to Barwell’s push
- Council CEO parrots Tory party line in official press releases
- Conservatives snub hustings as sham candidates exposed
- Threat of UKIP forces Tories to press the panic button
- Council allowances and local politicians’ secret consensus
- The list of candidates for the May 22 local elections
Coming to Croydon
- David Lean Cinema: The Rocket, May 22
- Songs From The Ledge, Spread Eagle Theatre, May 23
- Greek Myths: stories and mask-making, May 27
- Howard Marks: Scholar, Smuggler, Prisoner, Scribe, May 29
- David Lean Cinema: Dallas Buyers Club, May 29
- Tales from Ancient Greece, Upper Norwood Library, May 29
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, May 31
- Stitch Pitch quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, June 2
- Croydon Tech City “summit”, June 6
- An Improvised Murder, Spread Eagle Theatre, June 7
- Lakes Playground Action Group fun day, June 14
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, June 15
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Classic Car Show at Purley Rotary Fields, June 22
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- Warnings to the Curious, Spread Eagle Theatre, June 27
- South Norwood Allotments open day, June 28
- Fragile, Spread Eagle Theatre, July 24-26
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, Aug 10
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 72,342 average monthly page views (Jan-Mar 2014)
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