Met Police officers from across Camden held a meeting on September 5 to launch a new plan for London.
Ahead of the meeting the Ham&High asked people on the Nextdoor social media app what their top concerns were.
One top complaint was the “shameless” open drug dealing and taking on estates, anti-social behaviour, theft, particularly of bicycles, burglary, and lack of police in “hot spot areas” including Kilburn and West Hampstead.
In a break from the meeting, the Ham&High spoke to Neighbourhood Superintendent for Camden & Islington Jack Rowlands and north London borough commander
Chief Superintendent Andy Carter.
Both officers recognised the difficulties and constraints currently facing the Met, which the new Met Plan hopes to address.
Supt Rowlands said his teams were doing “everything they can” to tackle the demand they are faced with around recreation and habitual drug use.
In the past eight weeks they had arrest 150 people for drugs supply and possession.
He said when they do get call from the public they do attend but if they are not there, they cannot catch them doing it so try and target them in different ways.
“Sometimes our hands are tied, we don’t have a threshold for arrests but we do have a threshold for disruption,” he said.
“If I see you, I will stop you and I will ask you where you are going,” he said.
He said there are “different demographics” of drug users, drug takers and drug sellers, which need a partnership approach to solve.
Two years ago the Met launched project ADDER, which focuses on addiction, diversion, treatment, enforcement and recovery.
“You need all those elements to kick in to help solve a problem that’s pretty endemic.”
He said gangs stealing mobile phones and bikes were a “different criminal community”.
“If you get a drug dealer you don’t find stolen phones on them, and a thief, you don’t find drugs on them,” he added.
He said he was an advocate for diversion and did not think prison was the answer.
He added: “We need to be able to put people in front of a magistrate as soon as we can, and it means then we can impose bail conditions etc to disrupt their activity.
“There has to be a meaningful punishment with deterrent. A mixture of taking the punishment and finding a way out. A lot of the young people have been sucked into it themselves.”
He said additional PCSOs (police community support officer), sergeants and inspectors “will come soon”.
He added: “If I’ve got more officers, I can send them to hyper local areas, so people can see that there are more police around and that helps to disrupt them.”
The Ham&High told Chief Supt Carter about bicycle thefts, including an incident on September 2 when thieves cut through a bicycle hangar in Camden Square, cut through padlocks and stole four bicycles. The witness called police and got no answer.
Chief Supt Carter said: “Traditionally in the last few years our focus has been on violence and not enough effort on all the neighbourhood related crimes and that’s a really good example of having to reset ourselves as an organisation to focus on other priorities not just violence.”
He said police do analysis on different areas to work out where the hotspots are, acknowleging they needed to “double down efforts” in Kilburn, a split borough ward, and urged people to report all crime however minor.
He added: “We will become more sophisticated and better at investigating and detecting theft, damage.. at the moment our capability around motor vehicle crime is nowhere near good enough and I’m the first to admit it.
“Please report it or we don’t get a full picture. I know our call handling isn’t good enough but there’s a lot going into that to be able to answer the emergency and non-emergency calls.”
He said people can report all crime incidents online “which will generate a reference”, and which is analysed so they know where to send officers.