Please see the CPCG report March 2012 report (Agenda Item 9). Sergeant John Hipkiss presented the report .
Sgt Hipkiss advised that a new steering group was currently being set up and that a number of very effective PCSOs had left to become PCs; it was hoped that new PCSOs would be recruited after the Olympics.
Cllr Rajinder Bath thanked Sgt Hipkiss for the report and stated that he had received feedback from Ringway residents regarding anti-social behaviour (ASB) and alleged drug dealing involving youths gathered around the entrance to flats occupied by elderly residents. Many elderly people felt unable to use the front door because of the youths hanging around. Cllr Bath said that police had solved the problem before but it had now recurred. Sgt Hipkiss responded that police had worked with A2 Housing who had cut back surrounding foliage and had also spoken to the young people, most of whom lived locally. They had denied wrongdoing, saying that they were simply “chilling” but Sgt Hipkiss advised that they could become noisy and potentially intimidating; he stated that police would try to resolve the problem.
Regarding the increase in domestic burglaries over Christmas, Cllr Elizabeth Hughes asked if the police had evidence that any particular groups had been targeted by criminals, for example the elderly. Sgt Hughes advised that there was no evidence of targeting but the burglars had primarily been looking for gold as it was easy to sell on. He informed the Committee that a resident had filmed a “couple” walking slowly looking at houses. Another man had gone over a fence and entered a house, emerging with a bag which he had passed to the “couple” who had walked off hand-in-hand with it. The film included good shots of faces which would be very useful in catching and convicting the offenders.
David Blackett, Chair of Heston Residents’ Association, stated that the now defunct Ringmaster system had covered around 9,000 homes whereas its replacement, Neighbourhood Link, covered just 900. He advised that the Hounslow Neighbourhood Watch Association was organising a meeting in the Civic Centre in early June to publicise the switchover. He acknowledged that the switchover had been quite well publicised but felt that significantly more was needed to be done. Gurpreet Thethy said that a problem with Neighbourhood Link was that it was entirely internet based which excluded anybody without a computer. The Data Protection Act meant that the earlier scheme’s existing database could not simply be switched over and so there was a need to publicise widely to get as many people as possible on to the new scheme.
An anonymous resident of the Meadows Estate advised of continuing ASB and drug dealing in the area, particularly around Legrace Avenue and Lela Avenue, adding that the Hounslow Chronicle had referred to the area as the “estate from hell.” The resident agreed, stating that since the removal of two CCTV cameras things had become much worse and he alleged that people came from miles around to deal drugs, the noise preventing anyone around from getting a night’s sleep. The resident stated that anyone asking for quiet was abused which was particularly distressing to the large number of elderly residents. He said that his rent book stated that a payment was made from rent to a Neighbourhood Watch Warden; as the Neighbourhood Watch did nothing the resident advised that he was considering withholding that part of his rent. The resident said that he had been advised to ignore the large gatherings of youths near his home, but added that the youths made this impossible. He described an incident when he was hosting a family party at his home in January, when a man knocked on his door and demanded that he keep his dogs quiet in a very threatening manner. Finally the man stated that there were nowhere near enough police patrols on the estate, the last time he’d seen one was a PCSO the previous Friday.
Gurpreet Thethy said that she had worked on Legrace Avenue and two dispersal orders had been placed, the last one ending in November 2010. It was not possible, she advised, to put such orders into place without complaints and that crime statistics were needed to back up an application for CCTV. Ms Thethy asked the man if he called police when incidents occurred. He replied that he was telling a policeman now. Sgt Hipkiss advised him to dial 101 or 999, and assured him that all calls regarding ASB were logged in a register and action would be taken. He advised that regular patrols did take place but police could not act if they were not informed of problems and so stressed that the resident needed to call, for example if late night noise was preventing sleep. He stated that police would come and speak to him if he called them. The resident asked about the Neighbourhood Watch, asking why he was expected to pay for a warden when they did nothing. Sgt Hipkiss replied that Neighbourhood Watch was entirely voluntary, and perhaps the gentleman was referring to the Neighbourhood Warden. Sgt Hipkiss explained that these Wardens did not physically get involved in incidents but reported them, and he asked for further information. Cllr Dhillon agreed with the resident that ASB was a major problem in the area and urgently needed to be dealt with.
Cllr Hughes advised of the return of street gambling to the west Hounslow area, saying that she had personally witnessed around 30 people gathered at 2 pm on a Sunday with no police in sight. She described the culprits as large and intimidating, with obvious look-outs stationed nearby, who made it a no-go area for some people, adding that two friends she had been with had felt intimidated. Cllr Dhillon said that he had heard there were four main areas where this occurred over the past weekend and one man had lost £1500. He advised that he had spoken to the Borough Commander about the same issue seven months ago and the problem had now returned. Cllr Dhillon read out the following statement by a constituent:
There are four locations that are being used as gambling sites on the pavements of Bath Road, TW4. There is a site which lies in between Hounslow West Station and where the Bath Road meets Vicarage Farm Road and the other sites are on the pavement that is in front of the parade of shops.
Eastern European persons appear to be the main participants in the card games which are being held throughout the day during the weekends only.
This not only purveys an unwanted image of the Hounslow West Community, the persons gambling in these spots are a nuisance to residents, shoppers and business owners. To some persons this activity is intimidating. People feel inconvenienced because they can not freely walk on the pavement.
Persons are being robbed on the street and this criminal activity needs to be stopped! Not a single police officer has been seen in this particular area for a very long time. A complaint was made to the Borough Commander a few months ago, and following this complaint - the criminals went away and stopped operating in this area for a short while; however, now they have returned. We need plain clothed trained policemen to make the arrests! And, we need police officers in uniforms to help us create a safe place for the people again.
Manor Avenue, TW4 – there are claims of drug activity and prostitution taking place through this car park and alley way.
The alleyway is situated off Manor Avenue and behind the parade of shops on the Bath Road, TW4.
Sgt Hipkiss advised that discussions were taking place between the Metropolitan Police and their counterparts in the Transport Police to devise means of dealing with the problem.
The Chair and Members thanked Sgt Hipkiss for his report and the work that he and his colleagues were doing.