An Introduction from Superintendent Mitch Carr, Neighbourhood Policing & Partnership for Croydon Police
I wanted to write to introduce myself as the Superintendent for local neighbourhood policing here in Croydon.
It is a privilege to have responsibility for the safety of Croydon’s 400,000 residents, especially as someone who was born and raised here.
We know that a perception of crime or disorder will prevent customers from visiting our Town Centre, and that if shoppers do not feel safe, they will take their business elsewhere. That is absolutely not what we want, and we are firmly committed and determined to do all we can to reduce crime and, equally importantly, the fear of crime.
All of us at Croydon Police want to do our part in ensuring the Town Centre can be a vibrant, exciting and safe place to come and visit.
I can’t pretend this is always an easy task. The complexities of Croydon will not be lost on you all, and we have some challenges which I will outline in more detail below. We also understand that some of the issues affecting the ‘look and feel’ of the Town Centre are not police responsibilities, and as always, the best results can only be achieved through strong partnerships.
Priorities for Town Centre Policing
Our current priorities for the town centre have been developed in consultation with businesses, the local authority, Croydon BID, and the wider community. These include:
- Violence & aggression, particularly towards retail staff
- Anti-social behaviour including breaches of the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO.)
This is not to say that officers will not deal with other types of crime, but it helps bring focus when on patrol and planning proactive operations.
As you may be aware, there is a dedicated Croydon Town Centre Team, which consists of 1 Inspector, 3 Sergeants & 20 Constables. Because these officers work different shifts 7 days a week, they are not all on duty at the same time. We have now assigned dedicated Sergeants to Broad Green and Fairfield as part of the Strongest Ever Neighbourhood Policing project, and each of these wards will see an increase in the number of PCs and PCSOs.
We continue to have more officers than we would like reassigned to other duties, such as working on Emergency Response Teams or at Central London events such as protests or football matches. While the data shows that these abstractions are decreasing, we must monitor this closely. However, it is critical that we know that if you need to call 999, the Emergency Response Teams have enough officers on duty to provide an appropriate response.
The Town Centre Teams and neighbourhood ward teams now come under the direction of Inspector James Weston. While an increase in police officer numbers on these teams is certainly welcome, I believe there is justification for this team to be larger given the size of our Town Centre and the level of demand we face. I continue to make the case for this.
Visible Police Presence
I fully understand the importance of a visible police presence in assuring businesses and the general public that Croydon is not a dangerous place to live, work, or visit. We made the decision over the summer to “ringfence” four police officers each day who are dedicated to maintaining a visible presence in the Town Centre. I authorised the use of overtime funds where necessary to ensure that this commitment was maintained. I have taken the decision that this will continue until the end of November, at which point I will review it again. Operation Nightingale, which places officers in high visibility jackets at key hotspots in the Town Centre on a regular basis, is also still in effect. We have home office funding to keep this going until April 2024.
One of our challenges in terms of police visibility is the sheer size of the Town Centre footprint, but we know this is important and it remains a key focus.
Many of you will have hopefully noticed some of the recent surge operations. This is where we brigade resources from across the borough to put a significant police presence into the Town Centre for the day. We intend to hold more of these in the near future. Please be aware that some police activity in the Town Centre is conducted by plainclothes officers, but we try to balance this with the need for a visible police presence.
I am aware that shoplifting and other business-related crimes are all too common. While this is not unique to Croydon, we want to work closely with everyone to address this issue. It is completely unacceptable for members of staff to be subjected to verbal or physical aggression while doing their jobs, and offences where violence or threats are used, will be a priority. I know there will be many instances where matters are not reported to the police, however understanding the full scale of the issue is important and indeed essential in helping me make the case for increased resources for my Town Centre Teams.
You can help by ensuring that your CCTV system is operational, producing high-quality images, and that footage is easily accessible. Furthermore, encouraging your employees to provide statements and support police action sends a message to offenders that Croydon takes a hostile stance towards this sort of behaviour. Security staff should be equipped with audio and video body worn video cameras.
Please be assured that as we enter the autumn and winter months, providing effective policing to the Town Centre will be at the top of my priority list. While I will always wish for more resources, we will work to make the best use of the ones we have in order to focus on the areas and issues that are truly causing the most concern. Croydon BID will be key in influencing this, so please continue to voice your concerns and know that we are in regular contact with the Croydon BID team.
Finally, I’d like to thank everyone for their contributions and efforts in assisting us in keeping Croydon safe.
The Town Centre Teams and Neighbourhood Ward Teams come under the direction of Inspector James Weston. If you would like to speak with Inspector Weston, please get in touch with Croydon BID.