Knife crime in Waltham Forest: a nasty little scandal (2)

Following on from my recent knife crime post I e-mailed all the councillors on the Community Safety Scrutiny Committee as follows:

‘Dear Councillors,

Please note the following:

The knife crime figures plus associated Sanction Detection Rates (SDRs) are a real scandal, blighting the lives of many young people right across the borough.

In particular, I am interested to know what if anything you have done about the risible SDRs.

Is it not time for a full inquiry as to why (for many serious crimes) these are so far out of line when compared with other boroughs?

Yours sincerely,

Nick Tiratsoo’.

On 19 May, the chair of the Committee, Cllr. Masood Ahmad, replied as follows:

‘Dear Mr Tiratsoo,

Thank you for the email that you sent to myself and members of the Communities Committee about knife crime in Waltham Forest. Like many in the local community, councillors were shocked at the recent death of Elijah Donnelly in Walthamstow, which has again shone a spotlight on the devastating impact knife crime can have on young people and their families. I know that you are already aware that we have recently completed a review about the Council’s gang prevention programme, part of which looked at weapons. In it we made specific recommendations around improving evidence gathering and also making sure that sentences for knife crime be better publicised as a deterrent. These recommendations will go to the Cabinet for approval in the autumn

However, this does not mean that the Committee is complacent about this issue. At present there are no scheduled meetings of the Communities Committee, but it will reconvene after the Council’s AGM ‪on 25th May. If I remain chair knife crime is something that I will be suggesting that the Committee looks at during the year as it is clear that this is an issue that the community urgently wants to see tackled.

Many thanks,

Cllr Ahmad’.

Two observations are particularly pertinent.

First, what of Cllr. Ahmad’s claim that in their review, he and his colleagues have made ‘specific recommendations around improving evidence gathering’? This sounds impressive, but is it credible?

Turning to the relevant section of the review, it emerges that LBWF recently co-operated with the police over Operation Teague in the St James Street area, specifically offering ‘statistical and intelligence gathering support’, and the recommendation that follows, of which Cllr. Ahmad seems so proud, is that ‘the Council should use this intelligence gathering capability to seek to work with the MPS on similar operations in other parts of the borough’.

But this begs an obvious question. For since the very essence of the gang programme (as the review elsewhere acknowledges) is supposed to be about collaboration between partners, how is it that six years since its inception, the likes of Operation Teague is only now happening, and indeed is judged so novel that it apparently should be considered an exemplar? Are we to understand that in previous operations, LBWF has not offered its full-blooded support to the police, and if so, why not?

The second observation is so obvious that it requires little elaboration. My e-mail is centrally about Sanction Detection Rates. But in his response, Cllr. Ahmad simply ignores what I have written, and contents himself with irrelevant platitudes, provided (I guess) by a Town Hall support officer

In his own mind, Cllr. Ahmad apparently contemplates remaining chair of the Community Safety Scrutiny Committee.

However, if this is the best he can do, it would be better for everybody if he stands down forthwith.

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Knife crime in Waltham Forest: a nasty little scandal (1)

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