Ealing Borough Policing report

by Nigel Bakhai on 24 May, 2012

Here is a brief report on some of the main issues raised at the Ealing Community & Police Consultative Group meeting in May.

Firstly, there was a presentation by Superintendent Ian Jenkins from Ealing Police on the policing changes across the borough. The custody suite at Southall station has been closed, which means the loss of 12 cells in the borough, only six of which were in regular use. That now leaves Acton police station as the only custody centre in the borough. Acton has 22 cells and it was estimated that it’s usage is at around 85% capacity for most of the time. Going forward, at weekends or when Acton is full, the plan is for Ealing police to transfer prisoners to cells at Polar Park near Heathrow. This base has 44 cells and will also be used as an overflow facility by Hounslow and Hillingdon to make it a viable option.

Ealing Police Borough Commander Andy Rowell with Lib Dem Councillors Bakhai, Ball, Malcolm and Steed

Simon Message, who is the Chief Inspector in charge of the 23 Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNT) across the borough, then went through the changes to local ward policing.  The standard model for most Safer Neighbourhood Teams is for one sergeant, two PCs and three PCSOs. However, over the last year four of the sergeants have left and not been replaced so some of the SNTs like Northfields and Ealing Common share the same sergeant.  Furthermore, across the Met Police there are around 500 vacancies for PCSOs and there is a recruitment process going on to backfill the gaps in local SNTs across Ealing, including Elthorne, in the coming months. 

From September, the Met Police is planning to change the SNTs into what they are calling Integrated Neighbourhood Policing teams. The Police are still working on the details of the changes, and in particular how many extra officers there will be, but it is hoped that there will be sergeants in every ward and additional police officers working in each of the 4 clusters – Ealing, Southall, Acton, and Greenford/Northolt. These officers will be tasked with investigating lower level crimes such as assaults, harassment or theft of motor vehicles in their area (CID officers would still investigate the more serious crimes across the borough).  One of the most important proposed changes, though,  is that the officers in the new integrated police teams will no longer be ring fenced to work in their ward and the police will be able to use them flexibly across their clusters. They will work in shifts from 8am to midnight or 2am so it is likely there will only be one team on duty across the cluster at any one time. There will also be new police vehicles in each cluster to cover non-emergency calls across their area. Ward police panels will be expected to meet four times each year. At the moment ward panels decide three local policing priorities, but this could change going forward with one local ward priority being decided by the panel and two priorities being set across the cluster. Officers will be expected to deal with both ward and cluster priorities when they are on duty.  

The second issue covered at the meeting was an update on the progress being made to deal with the problem of “beds in sheds” across the borough with a presentation on this subject by Susan Parsonage, Director of Safer Communities at Ealing Council. Since October there have been 1,058 inspections across the borough. As a result, 112 planning warning letters and 50 planning control notices have been issued. Immigration Minister Damian Green has visited Southall to see the problem for himself, and now the UK Border Agency have tasked an immigration officer and intelligence officer to work with the council’s planning and regulation officers.  The council is investing £250,000 this year and the Department for Communities and Local Government has awarded Ealing a grant of £280,000 to tackle this problem.

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