Thin Blue Line

19th January 2019

Thin Blue Line

Over the last two months I have been shocked by the spike in violent crime being committed across Enfield. The most shocking for Enfield Southgate was the murder of a vulnerable elderly man in Bowes Ward in his own home. Our community is heart-broken and we send our deepest sympathies to his family. 

Subsequent aggravated burglaries and attempted burglaries have been reported in Southgate Green and Winchmore Hill and I have heard first hand, from the victims of those burglaries, of the sheer terror and fear as to what happened to them when their home and their security was violated. At numerous packed out public meetings, I have heard from residents who have deep concerns about their safety and the safety of their families. Constituents have approached me to let me know of worrying incidents while out in Enfield, where their safety was at risk. 

Although there are actions we can take ourselves to make our homes a bit safer and to be more safety conscious while we are out, we should not be forced to live in fear. I know our police service is doing the best they can, but the huge cuts to their funding by Central Government is making it close to impossible to deliver the public service that we need. The recent Home Office Affairs Select Committee Report, ‘Policing for the Future’ concluded that without additional funding for policing, there will be dire consequences for public safety, criminal justice and public confidence. We recognise this effect in Enfield right now.

In Enfield we have lost 400 officers and we now have only between 20 and 30 officers on duty at any time. The small amount of resources will have to focus on a serious incident at any one time, leaving some other parts of the borough without a police presence. This isn’t just my conclusion, this is what our police officers told residents at our public meeting in Bowes. I remember back in 2006 when the safer neighbourhood teams were rolled out across the borough with six dedicated officers (one sergeant, two police officers and three PCSOs) for each ward – this number has dwindled to just three officers per 10,000 people. When you consider that officers have to work shifts it’s a sobering thought that this thin blue line is all that is keeping us safe. 

I’ve heard some residents suggest that they want to pay for their own security on their road, but this really isn’t the society I want to live in. I am absolutely opposed to the ideology of draining our public services, forcing people to pay privately. Our society should be collectively responsible for everyone’s safety, health, education and prosperity. We do this through fair taxation, redistribution of wealth and decent public services based on need. 

The first duty of any government is to keep its citizens safe – my fear is that we have reached the tipping point. I have raised the need for substantial investment in policing in Parliament and will continue to do so. We cannot allow things to continue the way they have been.