Report back on North Twickenham & St Margarets Ward Police Liaison Group meeting – 2 October 2007

This time, thanks to the RFU’s Fraser Cullen, a hospitality box at Twickenham Stadium with a panoramic view over the hallowed turf was the venue for October’s public meeting. These meetings are an opportunity for the community of North Twickenham & St Margarets to ask questions, express concerns and make suggestions to the police.

Chaired by Dr Jenny Atton, it was attended by Inspector Graham Simpson, the Safer Neighbourhood Team led by Sgt Steve Davis, and the local councillors. Also represented were SMERA, Cole Park Residents’ Association and North St Margaret’s Residents’ Association, Heatham House and RUT College Community.

Twickenham Town Centre – the future

Twickenham Town Centre Manager, Esther Worboys, talked about the Council’s development strategy in this regard, which includes the provision of a diverse mix of housing and businesses that will appeal to a broad spectrum of residents. Currently, 10% of the business premises in the town centre are either empty or occupied by charity shops (national average: 15%); when the figure for empty premises is isolated, however, it is 7% (national average: 8%). The Council encourages businesses (especially large retailers) to come to Twickenham, but it has limited powers over aspects such as the rents charged by landlords.

Anti-social behaviour

Esther Worboys emphasised that the town centre is a dispersal zone, and that it’s hard for any business to change their license or extend their opening hours. Dialogue with business owners regarding this matter, among others, is maintained by a working group.

Questions arising from Esther Worboys’ talk:

  • What is the policy on litter? Answer: Intensive street-cleaning operations are planned.
  • Will there be a survey of local residents to determine what type of businesses they would like to see in Twickenham? Yes, a survey will be carried out soon and the results published in the local press.
  • Is there a strategy to develop the town centre? There is a long-term strategy to secure local landlords’ and commercial agents’ commitment to the area, but there is no quick fix.
  • Who funds the Town Centre management? Local businesses.
  • Is small business rates relief available? The Council does what it can, but it doesn’t have much influence over rates, as it is not a landlord.

Police report

Crime figures for the borough are down this year – in fact, Richmond ranks among the safest boroughs in London.

Richmond College Extra policing of students as they arrive and leave the college has led to two arrests, but no other incidents. Sidney Scott, College Community Liaison Officer, emphasised that miscreants are immediately dealt with by the College authorities. Councillor Morgan reported that measures are being taken to break up the flow of students down one road by moving the bus stop, widening the road, and installing a zebra crossing.

Car crime has declined, with 25 offences reported this year in the borough, compared with 46 last year.

Burglary in the borough saw a big rise this year, attributable to just one man! He has been arrested and has admitted 40 offences.

Graffiti and criminal damage There were 200 fewer crimes this year, with `the major problem being cycle theft’.

Public satisfaction with the local police force is 77%, the third highest in the Metropolitan Police.

Questions arising from the police report:

  • How do residents know if the police have acted on reported incidents? This was acknowledged to be a drawback of the centralised incident reporting system: police cannot easily find out what incidents have been reported on their patch unless the incidents are serious enough to have been included in a crime report. If the person informing the police of the event gets an incident number at the time of reporting, this can be used by the local police to follow up later.
  • Crowd control on rugby match days was raised as a concern, especially with regard to trespassing and urinating in the street. Sgt Davis confirmed that on-the-spot penalty fines penalties are enforced, and added that he will talk to the operations office to ensure that police units are tasked to patrol Whitton Road on match days, especially later in the evening after the match is over. Councillor Morgan said that residents must complain directly to the RFU, who claim they get hardly any match-day complaints.
  • The policing of the closure of Hillview Road was raised – particularly when children are going to school. There is no police presence during these times and the closure is regularly flouted. Sgt Davis said he would look at the issue.
  • Dispersal of youths from the town centre – does this lead to trouble on the fringes of the borough? Sgt Davis assured the meeting that there was no evidence of this.
  • Construction traffic on the Octagon building site Residents of Kilmorey Road and Kilmorey Gardens aired the fact that contractors often sleep in their vehicles in residential roads close to the site, and heavy lorries ignore the prescribed route to the site, causing problems for residents. The Council has informed contractors of the preferred route for their lorries, but cannot enforce it. Councillors Acton and Khosa said they would meet with residents to discuss the problem. The police will send traffic officers to check lorries, which may deter them from taking short cuts.
  • Crime figures for the ward are roughly the same as last year.

Policing Priorities

Before the public meeting, Policing Priorities for the ward were: burglary, anti-social behaviour, motor vehicle crime, and criminal damage.

But after each attendee was asked what they would like to see prioritised, they were revised as follows: robbery, anti-social behaviour and theft of pedal cycles.