Newham’s top cop plans petty crime crackdown to restore trust with communities
- Credit: Archant
A top cop has vowed to crack down more on petty crime to boost trust in the police.
Newham’s borough commander, Det Ch Supt Richard Tucker, pledged to get results ahead of an operation which will see more officers bear down on problems plaguing communities and high streets.
The week-long push – which could include tackling “aggressive” begging, street drinking and shoplifting – is set to start on December 13 across Newham.
Det Ch Supt Tucker, who has spent 35 years in the service, said: “We were far more engaged in communities when I started. I want to get back to that.
“We do the hard stuff well. It’s the localism we let ourselves down on. That’s the challenge for us and I’m up for it.”
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Det Ch Supt Tucker has been at the helm two and a half years now after Newham and Waltham Forest commands merged in an austerity-driven cost cutting exercise.
When he took over, the borough was in the grip of a violent crime wave which saw children and young people killed, including 14-year-old Corey Junior Davis.
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Corey was shot at close range in a Forest Gate playground in September, 2017.
Between April, 2018 and October, the Met’s crime figures show there were 28,767 reports of violence in Newham. There were 17 murders over the same period. Between April and October there was one.
“I’m held responsible for keeping people safe in Newham. When a young person or child loses their life, it cuts to my core,” Det Ch Supt Tucker said.
On arrival in the borough, the top cop ramped up anti-gang activity and stop and search.
“People keep asking about stop and search, but I keep thinking, ‘You should be supporting us. It’s about stopping children losing their lives,” Det Ch Supt Tucker said.
Det Ch Supt Tucker pointed to the murder of 15-year-old Baptista Adjei as an example of the “profound” impact a young person’s death has.
Marvin Dyer, 16, was sentenced to life for Baptista’s murder following a trial at the Old Bailey in September.
Det Ch Supt Tucker admitted the service doesn’t always get it right, but stop and search forms “a small part” of police activity and may not be solely responsible for undermining trust.
He pledged Section 60 orders, which allow officers to stop and search without reasonable grounds, would show “a clear thread” to data and community concerns, targeting specific areas not whole wards.
He added stop and search should always be done responsibly.
Government figures show in 2019/20, Met officers stopped and searched 2,266 white, 3,828 black and 1,183 Asian people under Section 60 orders.
Rights group Liberty says “people of colour are unfairly targeted for stop and search, and discrimination is at its highest for 20 years”.
Commisioner, Dame Cressida Dick, admitted this month that the Met “is not free of discrimination, racism, or bias”.
She said: “I recognise trust in the Met is still too low in some black communities, as is their trust in many other institutions.”
Increasing public confidence in the Met, particularly among black, Asian and ethnic minority communities, was described as a priority.
Det Ch Supt Tucker hopes the local focus will bring about change, though “hard-nosed” policing will continue.
“I hope people, rather than rolling their eyes when you mention the police, say, ‘You know what, they turned up, they helped us and cared’. Our biggest challenge is dealing with legacy,” he said.
He added diversity is important – 24 per cent of the borough command’s officers are black and Asian, above the Met’s 18pc average – but there is more to do.
More than 70 per cent of Newham’s population are black, Asian or from an ethnic minority.
However, he explained there is a nuance to diversity.
“Empathy. That’s the biggest value a cop can have. Without it, you’re not going to be a very good cop,” he said.
He described Newham’s independent advisory group – which meets every three months and aims to provide police with an insight into the needs of under-represented groups – as “representative”.
And the pandemic?
“Black Lives Matter was a more challenging time,” he said.
He explained how it was beholden upon officers to accept how communities feel and tackle issues that matter to them.
“It won’t happen overnight, but we will get there,” he said.