“Letter of concern” about local policing – sent to Chief Inspector Chris Veale – with reply added

Dear Chief Inspector Chris Veale,

I am writing to you on behalf of the London Road Area Local Action team – mandated by the recent LAT meeting 12/12/17 . They wish me to explain why they feel concerned and dismayed at the current policing situation and why the response upon which we are receiving feedback is felt to be inadequate.

I would like to point out that we enjoy good working relations with [our local Inspector], but feel that his good efforts may be hampered by lack of resources and policy imposed on him from higher up.

At a recent LAT chairs’ Forum meeting the police representative appeared to express the view to the effect that crime and disorder, especially drug-related crime is no worse than it has ever been. This was a very loyal and morale-maintaining comment for him to make.

But when reported back to our LAT it was clear that residents do not share that perception.

In relation to violent crime we have seen a spate of violent crimes and incidents among which are:

17th January 2017 – Elso Brito charged regarding a stabbing in McDonalds, London Road

20th January 2017 – knifeman arrested near Co-op London Road (Youtube video)

21st February 2017 – 10:45 violent incident resulting in 26 year old with suspected broken jaw

21st February 2017 – 11:45 violent incident reported, but no apparent victim coming forward

22nd July 2017 – Dennis Thompson-Simpson stabbed in KFC, London Road

11th August 2017 – 15 year old boy sustained head injuries in Oxford Street at 02:49 (serial 111 of 11/08). Residents in Francis Street report blood everywhere at their doorway.

6th October 2017 – 17 year old stabbed in buttocks by Carlo Gosden in London Road

6th October 2017 – man arrested for incident involving a machete in Level, adjoining London Road

1st December 2017 – knife used in attempted robbery at Admiral Arcade London Road (1178 of 01/12)

We have no sense that this frequency of violence is matched by any previous years’ records. We are grateful for the enforcement activities, but dismayed at the prevalence of the problem.

Drug dealing.

The LAT has been contacted in regard to drug-dealing in at least five separate locations:

  • in local residential street Winchester Street/corner with Clyde Road. Residents are grateful for Police intervention, but the problem still continues to a degree, and the perpetrators appear to have little shame, or fear of being caught. We can also flag up the corner of Lorne Road/Stanley Road – where residents report that they ring 101, write emails to 101, ring 999 and seem to get no response at all.

  • Providence Place. Residents are grateful to intervention by Equinox and Council Community Safety team when a pattern of drug dealing was reported to them via the LAT.

  • Oxford Street, which is adjacent to the Level. Traders have been approached by youngsters selling drugs. We are grateful to the Council for an intervention designed to remove access to a dodgy side-alley. Residents have expressed great concern about this area.

  • the Level. This area is a constant concern regarding drug dealing, and we await news of CCTV which seems to have been pending since your letter to Caroline Lucas of 13th March 2017. PS Chris Durrant’s email of 9/10/17 told us that CCTV was still awaiting a pole to put it on, and now that electrical wiring is still needed.

Again – the LAT has no record of so much drug activity being flagged up in previous years.

It seems to the community that problems are occurring which the police are unable either to deter or deal with adequately under their present funding and policies.

You will understand that residents and traders are upset:

(a) with the loss of localised PCSOs to deter crime, gather intelligence, and feedback results to the community

(b) the perceived inadequacy of the 101 phone system – which leaves residents feeling frustrated and powerless

(c) the explicit policy of reduced communication with community groups (LATs in particular). This means that when information is requested it is not always forthcoming, and that face-to-face contact at meetings is hard to obtain as being contrary to policy. Thus the community has no channel for quick and specific feedback on day-to-day concerns, until they escalate to become matters of extreme crisis and anger.

(d) and wonder whether in fact the drug-dealing concerns are linked to the violent incidents, as we understand that “stabbing in the buttocks” may indicate one drug group sending a message to another drug group, or other gang-related behaviour.

We would value your comments on the current situation, the trends we flag up, and the policing response to it, I will pass any comments you may have back to the London Road Area LAT.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Wells

London Road Area LAT chair

19th December 2017

Repy from Chief Inspector Chris Veale  21/12/17

Dear Philip.

Thank you for your email and for raising your concerns and I genuinely believe that the challenge for my organisation is to bridge the gap between the perception and reality of crime in Brighton and Hove.

I have commissioned a crime, drug and ASB data product specifically for your ward, although changes in our recording practices may skew some of the data. Some actual reports to police may yield more accurate results. I will reply in more detail in the early part of next year, or when the product is available to me.

I also offer the following observations in that at the time of the reported crimes and ASB, local Neighbourhood policing teams and a separate, albeit small bespoke ASB team were the primary department for multiagency problem activity. However, as of the 6th of November this year, Neighbourhood policing teams have been replaced by larger local Prevention teams. These Prevention teams are now made up of upskilled PCSOs, Police officers, and Police Enforcement officers which provides local policing with greater capability and capacity to manage such problems. There is also greater resilience at 1st line management (Sergeant) level to oversee any such problem solving activity.

In terms of drug enforcement and preventative activity, we have patrolled the level and fast food outlets in your ward more than ever before. The police and partners are also now more aware of the criminal tactic of cuckooing (drug dealing from residential premises of a vulnerable resident)and have implemented clear reporting, information sharing processes and responses with regard to this risk, from both an enforcement and safeguarding position.

I should also add, that when drug issues are raised at the LAT with our partners, we generally work together to jointly problem solve. Oxford street is a good example of this.

With regard to your lettered points:
a) We now have a pool of PCSO, Police Officers and Police Enforcement officers whom are better equipped to deter crime and gain intelligence. I accept we need to improve how we feedback results to the community but we use community messaging and social media to do this.
b) re 101, the average wait times are 4 to 5 mins, that said I am aware of some extreme cases. I would encourage people to report issues via our website.
c) We are less visible but remain accessible. We have a bespoke Brighton Hove page on the force website and your local team can be emailed with any requests you may have. If you implying around our position in that we would only attend a LAT by exception, where a specific police purpose was evident. I suspect we have attended your LAT reasonably frequently.
d) Drugs and violence do tend to overlap and we are working with partners to reduce the impacts of drug related violence in the City.

I hope this is helpful.

Have a Merry Christmas and best wishes

Chris Veale
Chief Inspector CV241
Prevention & Operations Teams
Brighton and Hove Division


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