Newham police chief sets up taskforce to target gang crime ‘holistically’
PUBLISHED: 09:35 02 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:35 02 August 2017
A taskforce targeting gang crime through a “holistic approach” has been assembled by Newham’s borough commander.
Chief Supt Ade Adelekan, who appealed for calm yesterday after a spate of stabbings and shootings in Newham, said previous attempts to tackle gang culture in Newham had not engaged perpetators before they committed crimes.
The police chief, 49, has put together a team comprising police members, senior council staff and other relevant bodies to address serious crimes and said a tactical response would be unveiled in September.
The move forms part of Chief Supt Adelekan’s pledge in his new role to reduce rising cases of violence with injury, robberies and anti-social behaviour (ASB) in Newham.
His comments, made to the Recorder last Thursday, occured before the most recent bout of violent crime in the borough.
The latest figures already show violence with injury (non-domestic abuse) rose by 27 per cent between April 2012 and March 2017.
Robbery increased by 10pc over the last 12 months while robbery of mobile phones is up by 19pc. Calls about ASB have also risen.
Chief Supt Adelekan said: “Sometimes we deal with one gang and then what we tend to do is leave a void.
“Let’s just look at our approach to gangs and see whether we can make a real conservative, holistic approach, looking at as many as we possibly can but not just from law enforcement - we are not going to enforce out way out of this - but from a prevention and intervention point of view.”
Chief Supt Adelekan said he met with key decision makers, including Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales, last Wednesday.
He said he wanted to reassure the public that there was not a link between acid attacks and hate crimes, adding “in most cases the use of noxious substances actually is due to violence around gangs or robberies”.
He said the police would be monitoring whether tougher penalties for carrying knives had led to more acid attacks taking place although he stressed he has yet to see any evidence supporting that theory.
The chief supt said recent police funding cuts had not directly affected his policing numbers but greater partnership working with Newham Council and other bodies was needed.
“The demand and volume of crime is changing and our criminals are getting smarter,” he said referencing the role online technology is having in facilitating this.
“We need to get smarter in terms of utilising our resources the best way we possibly can.”
Another focus for the police chief, who has been in the force for 22 years, is young people and understanding their issues.
“I like to get into young people’s space because I think that’s important,” he said.
“I think that’s a space that’s rather void in a lot of ways but it’s also a space that can inform policing in a slightly different way and I say that from experience.”
Chief Supt Adelekan was chief inspector in Tottenham at the time of the 2011 London riots and says it changed how he now approaches working with the community.
“That was one of the lessons I learned,” he said. “Why didn’t we get into that space? Why didn’t we understand it? Why didn’t we see it coming? What could we or I have done differently?”
He acknowledges the public anger over Edson Da Costa - who died after a police stop and whose death is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commissions (IPCC).
“Who was that voice [at the June Forest Gate Police Station protests] that could influence a different kind of outcome?
“We should create those kinds of relationships at times like this, not in times of crisis.”
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