Two new policing initiatives have been launched in Tower Hamlets aimed at cutting down street crime and anti-social behaviour in the community.
The new ventures are a second Partnership Task force putting extra police power into tackling local issues and a further round of ‘community walkabouts’ taking the form of ‘door-knocking’ to pinpoint local resident safety concerns.
Following the success of the Partnership Task Force launched in Tower Hamlets in 2011, the second task force aims to crack down on anti-social behaviour, gangs and street prostitution. It will have an additional 19 police officers and will be in place until 2015.
Of the new task force, Tower Hamlets Borough Commander Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer said: “It’s a large team with lots of different skills that can focus on community-based problems.”
Vice and gang related crime will be a key target, said Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman. Officers will form agile teams dedicated to tackling these important community concerns.
To date the original Partnership Task Force has resulted in 444 arrests and 167 cannabis warnings issued in the borough.
The new Partnership Task Force comes as further measures to tackle community problem areas in Tower Hamlets have been introduced.
Community Safety Ward Walkabouts, which ran from October last year to May 2013, have helped to identify local resident concerns at street level.
Now, a second round of walkabouts is set to start in September. These will involve ‘door knocking’ exercises to gain insight into how residents have been affected by changes made and what can be done in the future to increase community safety.
To date the walks have been led by Deputy Mayor Councillor Ohid Ahmed and have included councillors, police, housing, drug outreach and youth workers.
Ahmed said: “The reason I wanted to do the interactive walks was so I could see firsthand what the issues are and ask residents how they want to tackle them.”
Issues raised have included better lighting in alleys, more CCTV and regular patrols by officers.
Evidence of the initiative’s success can be seen in Spitalfields where concerns about anti-social behaviour were raised during a walkabout in November last year. As previously reported by ELL, this led to a dispersal zone being established around the Spitalfields area at the beginning of May.
According to market stall owners around Brick Lane, the dispersal zone helps to make the area feel safer. Local resident, business owner and Acting Chair of the East End Trades Guild, Shanaz Kahn, said that the presence of officers could be felt and she has welcomed their quick response to anti-social behaviour.
Kahn said: “This I hope will give a clear message that anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated in this community.”
Jon Shapiro, Acting Chair of the Spitalfields Community Group, who attended the Spitalfields walk notes that local police seem determined to help Brick Lane, but he said: “There is a lot to be done still.”
Stringer said he was pleased with the outcome of the walkabouts as well as the activity that has come from the information gathered. They present a unique opportunity to discover what policing issues members of the public face, he said.