Two months ago, I reported that there was a petition brought to the Metropolitan Police Authority asking for an extra 120 police officers for Waltham Forest. The Police and the DCiC*, Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse AM, were clearly unhappy about the idea of unpicking the Resource Allocation Formula that determines local policing strength just for one Borough, but it was promised that Assistant Commissioner McPherson would visit the Borough to see for himself what the issues were (I am told that in fact he has visited the Borough twice since then).
Today, at a meeting of the MPA’s Strategic and Operational Policing Committee, I spotted some interesting performance statistics about policing in Waltham Forest. In the year to end-February 2010, total notifiable offences in Waltham Forest have risen by 5.3% compared with the twelve months before – the second highest increase of any Borough in London. Even more significantly, Waltham Forest features amongst the bottom three Boroughs for sanction detection rates (the standard crime “clear up” measure – the proportion of offences leading to a judicial sanction against the perpetrator) for most areas of crime: burglary (where Waltham Forest’s rate was a quarter of the best-performing Borough); motor vehicle crime (a tenth of the best-performer); robbery (a third of the best performer); knife crime (less than half of the best); and sexual offences (also less than half of the best).
Now, there are plenty of possible reasons for these figures. It may not be that the Borough necessarily needs more police officers. The statistics might reflect the poor management of the policing resources available or might be a consequence of poor partnership with the local council or might even just be a temporary statistical blip. However, the figures do raise real concerns, which is no doubt why Assistant Commissioner McPherson is taking it so seriously and why Waltham Forest’s Labour Greoup was right to raise the issue in the first place.