The meeting was addressed by Stephen Greenhalgh, London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime and Croydon’s Police Borough Commander, Andy Tarrant, both of whom outlined the achievements being made in improving safety and security, as well as identifying some of the issues of on-going concern.
In his opening remarks, Mr Greenhalgh acknowledged all the changes taking place and planned for Croydon and told the audience: “You can’t fail to recognise what a huge ambition you have for turning Croydon into an economic powerhouse. Your future looks, very, very exciting.”
Mr Greenhalgh indicated that although crime is going down across London, confidence in the police is broadly flat across London. “We are winning on crime issues but there is more work to be done on public confidence,” he said.
Gangs and knife crime, terrorism and on-line crime are amongst the key concerns for the future, he believed and there was more work to be done in these areas.
He stressed the importance of businesses feeling confident about safety and security in the areas in which they operate in order to ensure a thriving and prosperous economy and he praised the work that Croydon BID is doing, funding additional police and working in partnership with key stakeholders, to bring about change.
“Safeguarding neighbourhood policing as you have in the BID, must be paramount,” said Mr Greenhalgh.
Businesses could help support the drive to deter and tackle crime by focusing on the things that matter most and addressing them through partnership working, he believed. “Share the same vision, adopt the same plan and work together,” said Mr Greenhalgh.
Croydon Borough Commander, Andy Tarrant echoed the need to improve people’s confidence in the police and to improve perceptions of crime in the area which is at odds with the reality.
To illustrate the point, he listed several examples of where crime – particularly robberies, shoplifting and serious assaults - has fallen significantly in the last three months. He also cited the results of a recent wide-ranging survey undertaken with Croydon Council, where people’s perceptions of the number of crimes committed far outweighed the reality.
“It may be hard for people to believe but compared to Kingston, under certain measures, our town centre is a lot safer,” he said.
Businesses can play a part in boosting confidence in the police, by helping to challenge misconceptions about crime in the area, Mr Tarrant believed.
Recognising the importance to the local economy of ensuring that the town centre is regarded as a safe and comfortable place to be, Mr Tarrant said he had worked hard with the BID to ensure that a town team of ten officers was maintained to provide the town centre with the best possible service.
In addition, over the last couple of weeks, an extra ten officers had been deployed in the Fairfield Ward to help further reduce crime in the area. As a result, people were seeing more patrolling officers and there generally was a more visible police presence, which is planned to continue.
Acknowledging the special relationship that the Police has with the BID, Mr Tarrant said: “It’s a great relationship, not just from an additional funding perspective but also because of the opportunities that it gives us to come and talk to the business community and keep them updated on what we are doing,” he said.
Cybercrime is a growing area of concern, he believed, however, 80% of it could be prevented by accessing free downloads that are openly available on the internet. He also urged business owners to take up the offer of advice and assistance that the police are able to provide to help secure their premises and their systems.
It is also anticipated that by the end of year, the force will be equipped with body worn cameras, which the Borough Commander said will create a ‘win win situation all round’ – both in terms of deterring and convicting criminals and monitoring the quality and levels of police service provided.