We want more dialogue, local people tell police chief

Matt Horne Pic: Metropolitan Police


Hackney residents have expressed their interest in having more contact with the police during a live web chat on Wednesday.

Hackney’s borough commander took part in a web chat with residents, discussing everything from how to become a police officer to bike theft and gangs.

Matt Horne was appointed borough commander in April, after becoming the borough’s detective sergeant in 1998. He said that a web chat was a great opportunity for residents with hectic lifestyles to have their say and ask questions. Horne said: “I envisage holding more of these in the future on specific themes and would welcome the public’s ideas on what they would like to see discussed in the future.”

The chat showed that the residents were now more interested in interacting with the police and learning about what was going on in their neighbourhood. Simon, a Hackney resident said: “I’ve just realised that the Hackney police are on Twitter. How about tweeting every arrest and charge, and then the court outcome? That way the community can get a grip of happenings in Hackney.”

Steve wanted to know how Horne planned to deal with the increasing anti-social behaviour in Egerton Road and Stamford Hill. “Anti-social behaviour is taken very seriously as more often than not it is a crime; pure and simple,” said Horne. “We work very closely with the council’s anti-social behaviour unit to tackle some of the more difficult cases. The whole borough is now a controlled drinking area which gives us more powers to stop it.”

Resident Nina said that although she considers the borough a safer place to live now, she feels less safe in the evening. “Hackney feels much safer than it did when I first moved here ten years ago,” said Nina. “But there are still times when I do not feel safe walking the streets at night.” She wanted to know how Horne would make Hackney safer, despite recent budget cuts.

Horne replied assured Nina by saying that despite budget cuts there are still plans to increase the amount of officers in the neighbourhood, by cutting down on management and support costs. He also said: “Having worked in Hackney 10 years ago, I agree that it [Hackney] is much safer and crime has declined steadily over that period,” said Horne. “But, this year, crime was up by about two per cent.” Glenn, who has had his bike stolen three times, suggested that the police should place trackers indecoy bikes in order to catch bicycle thieves The borough commander said that decoy bikes placed around Hackney did have trackers, which helped them trackcriminals who have sold stolen bikes on online auction sites. “There were lots of bike thefts in the borough and we have been successful in fighting this by using decoy bikes,” explained Horne. “The number of thefts associated with nightlife is rising and we are working very hard to reduce this.”

Hackney local Tim asked the commander how he planned to tackle the increasing problem of gangs in Hackney. According to the borough commander, Hackney’s Gang Unit was already responding to gang crime and violence. Horne said: “We offer many ways out of gangs and work with anyone who can provide alternatives to young people.When that does not work, my team of officers arrests them. Today, I saw a 22-year-old man sentenced to 11 years in prison as a result of this and this was without the cooperation of the victim.”

For more information, you can email the Hackney police on hackney@met.police.uk or follow them on Twitter @MPSHackney.

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