Ward Panels in Wanstead and South Woodford are keen to welcome a wider diversity of members from their respective communities to help support neighbourhood policing. Elaine Atkins reports
At the end of July, Redbridge residents were invited to attend a live webinar hosted by the Leader of Redbridge Council, Councillor Jas Athwal, and the Borough Commander, Stephen Clayman.
The importance of the partnership between the police and the council in tackling crime and antisocial behaviour was highlighted – but so too was the vital role of the general public in being the local ‘eyes and ears’ for reporting issues.
Across the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), each ward has a dedicated Safer Neighbourhoods Team (SNT) – a team of MPS officers who work closely with our communities to be able to establish local policing priorities and keep us safe. The wider area of ‘South Woodford’ covers both the Churchfields and South Woodford wards, while ‘Wanstead’ includes the Wanstead Village and Wanstead Park wards. Each ward has its own SNT, with three Dedicated Ward Officers, consisting of two Constables and a Police Community Support Officer – all supervised by a Sergeant and an Inspector.
Each ward has its own Ward Panel drawn from those who live, work or learn in the ward. The panel sets out to represent the whole community, including residents’ associations, faith groups, schools, businesses and community groups, to be able to engage with the SNT. Problem solving is at the heart of all neighbourhood policing, and engagement with the community helps to provide long-term solutions to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour. The aim is for the diversity within each panel to represent the diversity within each ward, to be able to give everybody a say in deciding local policing priorities that affect us all. This can be a challenge, however, and attracting panel members from all age groups, genders, faiths and cultures isn’t easy.
Our Ward Panels normally meet four times a year. Our SNT officers attend as observers – bringing data on crime and general information – as do ward councillors, Neighbourhood Watch ward coordinators and officers from Redbridge. Residents and community representatives are often invited to observe the work of the panel, especially if they are considering becoming a member.
At each Ward Panel meeting, opinions and concerns are expressed by the community through the panel members and the sectors they represent. Crime statistics and police reports are considered for the panel to be able to agree on a priority for their SNT, which is reviewed at the next meeting.
We are encouraging people from all cultures, faiths, genders and age groups to learn more about the panels and, hopefully to join us in shaping the local area. There are varying levels of involvement available, with the Wanstead Park panel currently seeking a new chair.