At the end of January 2018, Operation Marlin was set up by Haringey Police in order to target knife and gun crime, violent crime, general ASB (anti-social behaviour) and robberies in Northumberland Park. The last few months have seen an increase in police officers in the ward including some plain clothes police watching CCTV.
Prior to the launch of Operation Marlin, Haringey police teamed up with Homes for Haringey to run consultations with the local community where they found out about their biggest concerns. Superintendent Nigel Brookes from Haringey Police said ‘Feedback from the community in Northumberland Park demonstrated two things – firstly that local residents do have very clear and specific ideas about what they want us to tackle most urgently and secondly that we can tackle those issues best if we have a constant two-way communication between the residents and the police and partners.’
We had a chat with police sergeant Glen Walker, who has been working in Northumberland Park for just over a year, to find out more.
Walker explained that there are two aspects to the operation, enforcement and engagement. In terms of enforcement the police are aiming to execute warrants, make arrests and increase the intelligence picture of what’s going on, specifically looking at gangs in the area. On the engagement side they are trying to reach out and strengthen their ties with the residents of Northumberland Park themselves. ‘We’re trying to combat crime at it’s source. Reach into and empower the community.’
Every ward in London has one sergeant and two PCs. Northumberland Park ward has been given an extra sergeant and ten extra PCs, which have come from elsewhere in the borough. ‘It means we can conduct more patrols, we have the man power to carry out more warrants, we can do plain clothes patrols, high vis patrols, be out on push bikes and visiting the youth groups.’
Haringey Police are working with the Tottenham Hotspur foundation, along with the Haringey Council regeneration team, to run a regular community football league to enable police to engage more closely with some of the young people in the area. The police attend in casual clothes with an aim of building some bridges and to help break down some of the stereotypes that currently exist giving young people a preconceived idea of what the police are about. They are also working with ARCA who run similar football based events and have engaged with over 150 young people. ‘Young people that were a bit sceptical about speaking to us over the first few weeks are now coming up to us and starting to chat to us so it is beginning to have positive impact.’
They also run monthly community weapon sweeps (or ‘flash searches’) in partnership with the Haringey Council regeneration team to try to get members of the local community out on the street to ‘give us a hand searching where we might have found weapons in the past or where gangs hangout where we’ve frequently found that people will hide knives.’
Locals are encouraged to join the searches in the hope that ‘they might feel empowered that they are doing something positive in their community.’
Haringey police have ‘set up a series of talks about some of the gang issues’ and have been ‘speaking to some of the parents of school children via local schools and churches.’
‘The parents don’t always know the full story so we give them signs to look out for. If a young person is potentially heading down the gang route we try to engage with them early.’
‘On a small scale we feel like people are opening up to us, going along to the different youth groups, and are starting to engage with us more. The more they get to see us, the more they know us. Obviously, there’s gang issues in London at the moment, it’s in the press everyday, and we know we’re not going to solve this overnight.’
Last month, Haringey police announced a reduction in knife crime in Northumberland Park between the end of January and the end of April by 42% and a reduction in gun crime by 62%. Despite all this work and some encouraging statistics in the first three months, a 19-year-old girl was fatally shot in Northumberland Park in April 2018.
In a recent press update, Inspector Waterfield noted ‘We continue to work with residents to bring about reassurance and engagement to demonstrate the improvements we are trying to deliver. We have had some positive feedback from the public about being more visible and are keen to hear people’s views. Recent tragic events highlight the need to work together to help us to target the offenders and protect the vulnerable.’
Haringey Police are keen for members of the local community to pass on any information which could assist them in reducing crime in the area which can be done through a number of ways: Crimestoppers, the Met Police website, the local authority’s anti-social behaviour team, Homes for Haringey, safety hubs & community ambassadors.
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DT: This highlights the need for the government to put more resources into the police and community services to provide support to the communities that need it the most.