Pionering webchat with Islington Police “massive success”
The first ever live webchat with Islington’s police chief has been hailed as a great success.
Borough commander Ch Supt Mike Wise and Sgt Mike Atkinson fielded questions from the public for one-and-a-half hours yesterday evening (Thursday) during the event held in partnership with the Gazette and Will Perrin, founder of King’s Cross Environment and Let’s Talk About Local.
Issues hot on the agenda included irresponsible driving affecting cyclists, gang problems on estates and the soaring number of mobile phone thefts in the borough, as well as last summer’s riots and the forthcoming Olympics.
A number of questions also related to council plans to roll out a massive CCTV upgrade across the borough’s estates – as revealed by the Gazette earlier this month – and one member of the public asked if it would have helped solve the Andrew Jaipaul murder case.
The 21-year-old was repeatedly stabbed in an attack by a group of up to 20 men on the Andover Estate, off Hornsey Road, Holloway, on Sunday, June 26, last year.
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Ch Supt Wise, who confirmed his support for the CCTV project, said: “The murder of Andrew Jaipaul was an absolute tragedy and my sympathies are still with his family and friends.
“It is difficult to say whether an expansion of CCTV in this case would have assisted in the investigation but clearly it would have given the investigating teams another avenue of inquiry.”
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Following the event, Ch Supt Wise said: “This is a fantastic new opportunity to be able to discuss important issues around policing and community safety with the people of Islington. I really enjoyed receiving the questions and I thank you for the positive feedback that many of you gave in relation to what we are doing tonight. I very much look forward to being able to take your questions again in April.”
Srgt Atkinson added: “With modern technology playing a bigger part in people’s lives, I think it’s essential for the police to utilise this technology to engage with local residents. We’ve had a fantastic response and I envisage rolling this out on a permanent basis.”
Below are some of the other highlights:
Kara: How do you intend to help cut crime when frontline services affected – speaking for Caledonian in particular where the sergeant now has to be shared with Barnsbury?
Ch Supt Wise: “As with all public sector organisations, the Met has to make significant budget reductions over the next few years. The commissioner has made it quite clear that we will do everything possible to protect frontline service, and I believe, as do many police officers, that neighbourhood policing is key to developing community confidence and delivering a service that local people really want. It is a reality that I have had to ask sergeants to supervise two wards but I have retained at least two constables and three PCSOs on each ward. Let me also assure you that other officers are regularly posted into areas of Islington where we need to tackle a particular crime.
Luella Bourne: What are Islington police doing to help rough sleepers by Angel Station off the streets. The warm air vent near the station must save many homeless people from freezing night temperatures. I hope they are not moved on by police unless there is a better alternative?
Chief Supt Mike Wise: “The issue of rough sleeping in London is one which is high on the agenda for many inner London boroughs. Islington Council has an outreach team, the purpose of which is to ensure that we give as much support as we can to the vulnerable and integrate them into mainstream accommodation. In this instance, the role of Islington Police would be to make those referrals and support the outreach team in their work.
2012: Do you think things will be very different when the Olympics are on? Will tourists be safe...Will travel be impossible?
Ch Supt Wise said: “I think the Olympics is a massive opportunity to showcase London and the United Kingdom. The Met along with many of its partners have worked tirelessly over a number of years to put together a policing and security operation to ensure we have a safe and secure games. All police leave has been cancelled so that we can, with colleagues from around the country, put as many uniform police officers, community support officers and members of the special constabulary on the streets of London. This is designed to provide reassurance, protect visitors to London and deal robustly with those who intend to commit crime.”
N5 Resident: “I have had friends and heard stories of others who have had their mobiles stolen from out of their hand by young thugs on bikes. Are there any ways police can seize and sell off their bikes once they’re convicted? Or give them to a charity or something? Would Islington Police back anything like this?”
Sgt Mike Atkinson: “If a person is convicted of committing an offence while on a cycle we have various options to deal with them. We would look at banning them from using pedal cycles for a specific area/specific time. We do seize property including cycles and they go to auction. Money from this then gets invested into local projects/charities. We have recently given money to several youth diversion projects in the borough.”
Chris: I have read in the local paper that the council intend to increase CCTV to cover pretty much all estates in Islington. Is that something you would support?
Ch Supt Wise: “The use of CCTV is a very valuable tool to prevent and detect crime. There are many instances in Islington where we have detected very serious offences and brought offenders to justice through this method. I absolutely understand people’s concerns in respect of civil liberties but used responsibly with safeguards, then CCTV does provide reassurance and confidence in many communities. Therefore I would support further expansion after the appropriate consultations take place.”
CitizenX: Do you think less jobs for young people will mean more youth crime? And youth charities are getting their grants cut...
Chief Supt Mike Wise: “I often think that young people are unfairly stigmatized and all the public sector and voluntary agencies should pull together to provide as much opportunity as possible to ensure our young people are able to flourish and fulfil their potential. It is true that a number of funding streams have been cut but Islington Police and the council have been considering other ways in which we can support young people in the borough. There are also a number of well established community projects such as Arsenal in the Community who do much good work in diverting young people away from crime. Through our neighbourhood policing teams we support various projects including a Safer Neighbourhoods Annual Challenge (SNAC) which gives young people to interact with police and work on community projects.”
Cally: Do you think it’s fair when big crowds protest at the station on issues that have nothing to do with the local area?
Ch Supt Wise: “I have always been a firm believer that living in a democracy, people should be allowed to peacefully and lawfully protest on a subject or theme they strongly believe in. As a police officer for 29 years, I fundamentally believe that it is the job of the police service to facilitate that protest. The issue that we face now is the balance between protest and the impact on the local community. As a public order Commander in London, I and my colleagues build into their planning for these events contingencies to try and allow protest at the same time ensuring Londoners can go about their business.”