New Safer Neighbourhood police teams launched in Tower Hamlets

Metropolitan police. Pic: Imperial College London

New specialised police teams dedicated to tackling anti-social behaviour and crime in Tower Hamlets began operating last week.

The primary teams will consist of police officers specialised in handling anti-social behaviour (ASB), supported by officers from the borough’s Safer Neighbour Teams (SNT) who work closely with Tower Hamlets Neighbourhood Watch, and anti-social behaviour officers from local housing associations.

Areas experiencing distinctly higher levels of anti-social behaviour will be supplemented by additional officers and resources. By focusing on these areas with high levels of anti-social behaviour, it is hoped the teams will act as an effective deterrence against continued anti-social behaviour related issues, and will help improve the image of community policing, an area which has seen a decline in both funding and positive public opinion over the past decade.

This new action has been designed in a way that will allow officers to respond quicker and more effectively to short-notice incidents when they arise, as well as providing resources and time for conducting operations aimed at tackling persisting issues.

Specific offences the council is keen to drive out include littering and graffiti, drug-related ASB, and tackling irresponsible businesses that contribute to these issues. The Tower Hamlets Community Safety Partnership Plan 2021-20214 which includes the full list of aims and commitments can be found here.

In a press release published last week, Councillor Sirajul Islam, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, showed support, saying that the new teams “will help to build stronger relationships with our partners and the local community” and that “this new way of working will allow for a much faster response to dealing with residents’ issues as they arise.”

In addition to the new specialised anti-social behaviour teams, there have been various other recent improvements made to the borough’s efforts in community safety. This week the borough organised a women’s safety walk in Globe Town, Bethnal Green, and last month a new weapons surrender bin was installed in Shadwell. There are also plans for future Environmental Visual Audits(EVAs) to take place across the borough, which will identify issues in need of resolving, and more effectively designate tasks to the correct authorities.

The recently installed knife bin, Shadwell. Pic: Tower Hamlets Council

Last month Mayor John Biggs announced extra funding for community safety projects and infrastructure in Tower Hamlets in his budget proposals for 2022-23. This included greater CCTV system expansion, the development of ‘Community Safety Engagement and Enforcement Hubs’ in high priority locations, and more officers trained in handling violence specifically against young people, and women and girls.

A ’community engagement bus’ is also set to be launched, and the council hopes it will provide a comfortable and easily accessible space for residents to meet and talk with the borough’s police and other individuals who are responsible for community safety.

Last week’s Tower Hamlets women’s safety walk, Bethnal Green. Pic: Tower Hamlets Council

Councillor Islam said: “Alongside the other improvements we’re making to community safety services, I’m confident that this new way of working will help with our ambition to make Tower Hamlets a safer place to live, work and visit.” 

In the same press release, John Biggs said: “We know that our residents are concerned by antisocial behaviour and violent crime. We have significantly invested in community safety in recognition of this, which has allowed us to enhance our front-line service.”

Biggs went onto say that these new anti-social behaviour teams will “lead to a better understanding of the causes of crime and ASB in each area, which will help us tackle issues in the long term.” 

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