Crime-fighting in Tower Hamlets

Just returned from an early morning meeting with Louise Casey, who is the author of the white paper “Engaging Communities in Fighting Crime”. Also present was the commander in charge of the Tower Hamlets Safer Neighbourhood Police, lead councillor Abdal Ullah, Head for Community Safety at Tower Hamlets Council, Mr Andy Bamber.

Discussed were the length of service individual Safer Neighbourhood Officers have to spend in any location and its currently a minimum time of 1 year in Tower Hamlets but for example Cheshire Constabulary engages their community officers for a minimum of 2 years. To my delight, Louise Casey says she would support a 2 year minimum contract.

Well it might be more pleasant to spend 2 years in Cheshire than in Tower Hamlets, but lets not dwell on negatives.

All community representatives also there on the day demanded higher police presence, in form of patrols to discourage congregation of anti-social elements in any shape of form.

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The Glasshouse Community Centre is run by volunteers since 18 years. It was recently refused essential funding because one of its volunteers died suddenly of a heart attack and a funding application deadline was missed.

Louise Casey combined this visit with a chat to a local community pay-back team cleaning graffiti from walls in Brick Lane. All agreed to support the special vests community pay-back offenders have to wear.

On a personal note I am not clear why Tower Hamlets Council does not support positive community initiatives like the Glasshouse Community Centre. This community centre on Parkview Estate, does not attract nor host crime and provides a positive to the anti-social and criminal negatives in the area. There was a lengthy article in this week’s East London Advertiser about the issue.

Talking of publications, the council can spend well over 1 million pounds per yearon a local paper but cannot find a comparatively paltry sum of £6,000 for a local community centre. Such centres are important to provide meeting space for locals who cannot afford commercial rates to mix and there is still a considerable number of local residents who require that provision.

People use it for birthday parties, children’s parties, weddings, holy Communion parties.

There is also a much used boxing club, tea and coffee mornings, I use it for Neighbourhood Watch meetings and of course the Tenants and Residents Association also meets there. Not to forget the mothers and toddlers have nowhere else to go on a regular basis. I thought the council cares a lot for under-fives but apparently Bethnal Green North is not high on the agenda for them.

I am still hoping to bring them around and give the much needed money to help the volunteers pay back 3,500 pounds on unpaid gas and electric bills.

I must say I did not raise the community centre issue at the meeting because it is a local problem but discussed it afterwards with both Councillor Ullah and Andy Bamber who promised to look into it. Lets hope for the best. Crime Fighting is not just about police arresting criminals its about communities who do not want to turn to crime in the first place.

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