Lib Dems call for return of community policing amid crime fears

The Liberal Democrats have criticised the Conservative government after a survey they commissioned showed more people turning to DIY security measures due to fear of crime rates. 

The poll revealed 54% of those living in London have installed a form of security measure such as putting in new locks. 

It also found that 19% of Londoners have joined a neighbourhood watch within the last year and 14% have bought a dog for protection.  

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey and MP for Kingston and Surbiton said he believed community policing was paramount to tackling security fears. 

He said: “Hardworking Brits should not be left to install CCTV and fear leaving the house at night, because Conservative Ministers have cut community police officers.

“Communities across the country are rightly furious at this government’s approach to solving crime.”

Kingston on average had a lower crime rate than the rest of England between February 2023 to January 2024. Within that period, Kingston had 67.9 crimes per 1000 people across all crimes in comparison to 83.6 per 1000 for England.

Kingston Council have implemented measures to increase safety for locals such as creating the Safer Kingston Partnership (SKP) scheme

The partnership aims to bring together different authorities to improve community safety in local areas and involves a form of community policing shared between neighboring boroughs.  

The Safer Kingston Partnership consists of representatives from:

  • Local Authority
  • Metropolitan Police
  • NHS SW London Intergrated Care Board
  • London Fire Bridge
  • Probation Service

The scheme works alongside other agencies such as the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, as well as local business partners to keep Kingston’s residents safe. 

However, Kingston Council opposition leader Cllr James Giles, believes that police resources being shared amongst boroughs, ultimately hinders the effectiveness of policing in the area. 

“A lot of our officers get sent to Merton, sent to Wandsworth to tackle crime there which is to the detriment of residents here in Kingston,” Cllr Giles said.

Kingston councillor Yvonne Tracey expressed concern that there was an unequal balance when sharing police officers between boroughs.  

She said: “I’d sooner go back to where the Royal Borough had their own police because, for example, there is higher crime in the Wandsworth borough than in our borough. So, I think we get short-changed by sharing.” 

The same poll showed a quarter of British people (24%) had installed a security camera doorbell, such as a Ring doorbell, a 5% increase compared to April 2023. Parents and Londoners were the groups most likely to install a camera doorbell. 

Other safety measures people took were buying home CCTV measures. 

However, Conservative Councillor Rowena Bass felt the recent increase in security doorbells was as a result of other factors than solely safety precautions. 

Cllr Bass said: “People aren’t generally afraid of crime, though with social media it can get a bit hyped up, but I think it’s more the availability of them.”

Despite this, the Lib Dems have continued to highlight the importance of creating proper security policies to ensure people feel safe.

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The podcast editor and reporter for Kingston Courier.

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