‘Islington has had a tough time, but we’re here’: new police chief

Chf Sup Catherine Roper, Islington's new borough commander

Chf Sup Catherine Roper, Islington's new borough commander - Credit: Archant

New borough commander takes borough - a ‘fantastic place to live and work’

After two and a half years, former borough commander hung up his helmet last week after steering Islington through some challenging times.

Taking over in his stead is Chf Sup Catherine Roper, a former Islington Det Chf Insp who knows the borough well. The Gazette caught up with her and found out her ambitions for her new role.

“I want to make Islington as safe as it can possibly be - the safest borough in London, it’s a simple as that.

“I want to encourage people to have the confidence to report crime, for victims to come forward.

“This is a great borough, with a strong local authority. Gerry [Campbell] has done a brilliant job during the last couple of years.

“I want to build on that, but I know I’ve got big shoes to fill.”

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“Islington has had a tough time recently, and some tragedies, but I want people to know we are here. The borough commander may have changed, but we are a steady ship with a good handle on things.”

In terms of the problems facing the borough at the moment – notably a recent surge in youth violence – Chf Sup Roper has been doing here homework, attending the recent crime summit at Islington Assembly Hall in preparation for her new role.

“I am so glad I went,” she said.

“A lot of specialists from different groups spoke and it was very humbling.

“There was such a strong sense of community and strength of feeling.

“Everyone agrees this is a great borough will work hard to keep it that way - I want to be part of that and help as much as I can.

“I see engaging with the youth community is one of our main challenges.

“We need to work closely with them, both formally and informally, along with our partners like Islington Council.

“I feel there are youth groups out there, like guides and scouts and so on, but for whatever reason they are not offering what young people want.

“We need to find out why.

“Or maybe young people don’t know what is out there - maybe it’s not advertise.

“It’s too early for me to judge- this is only day eight on the job.

“But in terms of youth violence and moped and bike related crime, such as theft from person, we will deal robustly with perpetrators while encouraging victims to come forward.

“And we need to show young people at risk of this sort of behaviour they can go down one road - leading to crime - or the other.

“We will use total policing as part of that.”

And what would the police chief regard is success during her time here?

“I want every engagement the public has with my officers to be positive.

“I want people to have confidence in them. No matter how challenging a situation is to begin with, I don’t want it to end that way.

“If I could go the crime summit next year, stand up and say ‘we’ve delivered all the things you wanted’ that would be phenomenal.

“I just to work to make Islington better and better.

Chf Sup Roper, who is under 40, joined the Met in 2000 as a “standard recruit”.

She has completed a degree in law and politics and has just finished her second masters.

Outside the job she lives in Hertfordshire with her partner, runs a guide group, and enjoys walking, going to theatre and visiting msueuems.

She said: “I’ve been incredibly privileged in my career to have lots of diverse roles, including surveillance and covert operations,

“But I remember spending a year here in Islington in 2010 and I am hugely proud to be back.

“I’m very happy. It’s a fantastic place to live and work, and I want to contribute to that.”