|HAVE POLICE LOST OUR CONFIDENCE?
After three murders in year, survey reveals low approval rating
CONFIDENCE levels in police are lower in Islington than anywhere else in London, new figures compiled by the Met have revealed.
Police chiefs have been stunned by the statistics, which show only 29 per cent of those surveyed think they are doing a good job.
The figures are in sharp contrast to neighbouring Camden, where police have an approval rating of 86 per cent.
Acting borough commander John Sutherland told the Tribune yesterday (Thursday) he was “disappointed and bemused” by the results of the official survey.
The figures have brought a mixed reaction: some residents say it’s time for Islington police to raise its game but local politicians have defended the current leadership and insist it has the talent to turn things around.
Police said the murders of three teenagers in the past year on Islington’s streets had a deep impact on the community and the perception of crime levels.
Supt Sutherland said of the survey results: “I feel a combination of disappointment and bemusement. You never like to see poor performance figures, they don’t reflect reality.
“One challenge we face is the misconception that Islington isn’t safe. In 2004, more than 40,000 crimes were reported. In 2008, it was more than 10,000 less and that’s continued to fall this year. Crime in Islington has fallen more than 25 per cent. These are astounding figures.”
He added that, while he did not wish to criticise the figures because they did not look right, he pointed out that just 125 people had been surveyed. “It’s a small sample,” he said.
“I don’t want to brush it off. I’m not complacent, there’s lots we can improve on. I take it very seriously.”
Supt Sutherland said the comparison with Camden was significant but puzzling. “We’ve asked a couple of questions of them and still haven’t had the light bulb moment,” he added. “We’re going to invest heavily in community engagement – finding as many ways as we can to listen to and respond to the community – and communication.”
One resident, Pat Manning, who lives in Camden Road, Holloway, said: “Quite honestly, I’m surprised the score is as high as that. Crime figures may be going down but people don’t bother to report crime because the police don’t do anything.
“We have to live with low-level crime day after day. Police need to get out of their cars.
“If we saw a policeman walking down Camden Road we’d be surprised. When Safer Neighbourhoods police come round they are lovely but they admit they spend 90 per cent of their time on council estates.”
Richard Schunneman, chairman of Andover Estate Tenants and Residents Association and a member of Islington’s Community Safety Board, said: “My first reaction was of disbelief. This has to do with a number of things and I had a number of meetings with the police because it’s very worrying.
“We had three high-profile murders under Islington police’s watch and people were concerned and that increased the feeling of insecurity.
“People are very unforgiving. But when you look at the confidence levels and the crime statistics they don’t match up. The police are not good at blowing their own trumpet.”
Labour councillor Phil Kelly, who sat on the council’s Commission on Young People and Safety, set up following the murder of teenager Martin Dinnegan, said: “I’ve no idea why these figures should be like this – it’s not my experience at all.
“My Safer Neighbourhoods team in Finsbury Park is very good. They get on extremely well with the community, they are sensitive and dedicated.
“The council should work closely with police and make sure everybody’s working in the same direction.”
Islington Council Lib Dem crime chief Councillor Terry Stacy said: “Islington was one of the first boroughs in London to have Safer Neighbourhoods teams in all its wards and more recently we’ve invested in 18 officers to support schools and work with young people.
“In the light of all this work, the figures are clearly disappointing, but it should be remembered they are based on a small sample.”