Islington police chief leaves with ‘pride and sadness’

Borough Commander Ch Supt Gerry Campbell, leaving the hotseat after more than two years

Borough Commander Ch Supt Gerry Campbell, leaving the hotseat after more than two years - Credit: Archant

Borough commander departs after more than two years

Ch Supt Campbell 'I'm leaving with mixed emotions' Pic: Dieter Perry

Ch Supt Campbell 'I'm leaving with mixed emotions' Pic: Dieter Perry - Credit: Archant

After a tumultuous two-and-a-half years of crime-busting in Islington, borough commander Ch Supt Gerry Campbell handed over the keys to Tolpuddle Street on Monday at 6am.

Since taking over the reins from Ch Supt Mike Wise following the 2012 Olympics, he and his team have eased the plague of mobile phone snatches that has blighted Islington for years, smashed the notorious Easy Cash Gang on more than one occasion, enforced crackdowns on the Andover and Highbury Quadrant estates when trouble reared its head and reduced the number of crimes in the borough by more than 1,350 a year.

But his time hasn’t been plain sailing – domestic violence and attacks on women are still a big problem – as is youth violence; typified by a month of stabbings in February including the tragic death of 15-year-old Alan Cartwright.

Now as he passes on command to Ch Supt Catherine Roper, and takes over the Met Task Force – including 1,500 officers spread across riot police, horse units, dog handlers and the marines division – he reflected on his stint in Islington.

“I’m leaving here with mixed emotions,” he said. “I am looking forward to my new job, a bigger role in some respects, but I look back on my time here in Islington and have a tinge of sadness.

“I’ve really enjoyed the role here. I feel I am going from one good job to another and I am moving on with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.”

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Ch Supt Campbell, who started his career pounding the streets in Hackney, says there is much to be pleased with during his tenure.

“I was very proud to be appointed to the role and I still feel that pride.

“As a team we’ve worked to reduce crime, with 1,355 less offences, including theft from person, robbery and burglary – that’s really important.

“I’m very proud of the officers and staff members here, who are genuinely dedicated to what they do.

“They work really hard for local people, preventing crime and helping victims.

“Together we’ve increased public confidence, reduced crime and helped more victims, all against a background of austerity.”

Specifically, the way the borough tackled iPhone snatches – which at one point were the worst in London – is a source of pride.

“Operation Ringtone, as it was called, started by dealing with a problem locally. By a sustained approach, raising awareness and targeting offenders, we got results – and some of our techniques were adopted regionally across London, then nationally, and finally internationally with some European operations.

“It all came from this borough.”

And with the recent explosion of knife crime, does he feel it’s a strange time to be leaving the borough?

“When is the right time to move on?” he said. “The fact is the new borough commander will come in and she will have her own priorities and her own way of policing.

“She was at the recent crime summit, and having spoke to her afterwards, she picked up on the public’s strong feelings, and the way the borough is unified in tackling this together.

“I do feel I have some unfinished business in the borough. Youth offending is still a concern of mine.

“Like a lot of borough commanders, I feel I haven’t done enough, but you never can. I haven’t finished what I want to do here, but we’ve overcome a lot of challenges during my time.

“And everything we’ve done has been to make things safer for the people who live here.”