Ruth Cadbury MP has spoken up for her constituents in a debate on neighbourhood policing. You can watch the whole debate by clicking here and pressing view event
Ruth Cadbury MP said during the debate:
"It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Evans. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster North (Ms Buck) on securing the debate and I congratulate my right hon. and hon. Friends on the excellent points that they have made in the debate.
"Just before Christmas a pig’s head was left on a pavement in Hounslow alongside anti-Muslim graffiti. Among the first people on the scene were PCSOs who work on that beat. They saw the graffiti and could speak to local people, report the incident, give reassurance and act as liaison. They could act as the first point of call, to reduce community tension at a time when, as we know, such tension is heightened in parts of London. Police driving past in a car would not have seen the graffiti and might not even have seen the head. That is just one example of the importance of PCSOs and neighbourhood policing in London, and of why they need to be protected.
"In Hounslow there has been an increase in the number of full-time equivalent police officers, although I think that clarification is needed with respect to the total number of officers and PCSOs and full-time equivalents. The number has gone up by 16 to 556 since March 2010—a small increase. In the same time, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Tooting (Sadiq Khan) has said, the number of PCSOs in Hounslow dropped from 109 to 23 by November. There are now fewer than one per ward.
"I have spent 25 years as a ward councillor, have been a deputy leader and cabinet member, and have served on my local ward panel, and I have seen the benefit of neighbourhood policing to my community and borough at grassroots and neighbourhood level. As has been outlined, safer neighbourhood teams are in regular touch with councillors, young people, headteachers, voluntary and community organisations and key people in all the main local public and community services. I am told that the police and PCSOs in Hounslow do not feel confident that neighbourhood policing has a future in London, despite the good words of the commissioner late last year. The drive towards car and computer-based policing means fewer links between the police and the community and less of the benefit that they bring in reducing tensions and improving community safety, and in counter-terrorism. PCSOs are the conduit between the police bureaucracy, the local authority and public services and local residents.
"Londoners have built confidence in the police since the implementation of neighbourhood policing. None of us wants to go back to how it was before. I do not want policing to go back to the situation I experienced in my early years as a councillor, when it was impossible to get in touch with the police. There was no engagement on local issues and no consistent engagement; it was only as and when, as a reaction to an incident. There were no long-term links with community organisations and little understanding of local issues, local tensions and local people. I do not want to go back to that position, which is why I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster North on securing this debate."