CONCERN AT POLICE RESOURCES

Sutton South Ward is a low crime area, but we have felt a need to express concern about the resources available to the local police. This was after the meeting of the consultative panel for our Ward arranged for Wednesday 14 March was called off due a shortage of available police personnel.  

We both sit on the panel, which is a vehicle for consultation with the community about police priorities and is also a mechanism for the community to help the police. More information about the panel is available on the page on “Sutton Police”.

The text of our letter to Sutton’s senior police officers was as follows:

“To Superintendant Phil Willis, Head of SPSS
    Chief Inspector Alan Chambers
 
 
Dear Colleagues
 
The scheduled police consultative panel meeting that was due to take place tonight in Sutton South Ward of the London Borough of Sutton has been postponed by the police.
 
Councillor Heather Honour and I, the two Liberal Democrat Councillors for the Ward, are concerned at this cancellation, which appears to be due to problems related to police resources. I am writing to you to express our concern and to seek re-assurance that there are not going to be longer term problems with the policing of our Ward.
 
The Sutton South Ward Safer Neighbourhoods policing team used to have its own sergeant. Last year that was taken away from us, when the long-serving Dave Williams retired, and a single segeant was appointed to cover both Belmont and Sutton South. We did not protest at this, since analysis we regularly carry out of crime trends in Sutton South compared to the rest of the Borough show it is a low crime area, and Belmont Ward has similarly low figures. Sergeant Brendan Mcwilliams was appointed.
 
Since then there has been a continuous pattern of change. Sergeant McWilliams is now leaving us and we find that the resources of the team are almost continuously depleted by training and by officers being deployed away from the area to help with operations elsewhere. This depletion is the reason we have been given as to why it is not possible to hold the scheduled meeting of the panel thisevening.
 
We fully appreciate that there are times when local resources have to be offered up to assist in wider policing exercises, and recognise that as the Olympics approach this may happen more often. However, we would be concerned if our area was left with so little cover that normal policing tasks for the community were put at risk, and if this were to impact on crime levels.
 
We would welcome your reaction to these concerns and trust you can put our minds at rest.
 
Best wishes.
 
Richard Clifton
   Councillor for Sutton South Ward”
 

CHALLENGING INJUSTICE AND HATRED

Sutton Council held its annual event for Holocaust Memorial Day on Friday 27th January 2012 in the Europa Gallery in Sutton Central Library. We both attended. The theme of this year’s event was ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’ and had the aim of encouraging people to challenge injustice and hatred, thus creating a safer, better future. There were speeches from the Mayor of Sutton, Councillor Gerry Jerome, Holocaust survivor Marcel Ladenheim, Mr. Meddie Kakyama-Mayanja, who spoke on the African genocides, and Reverend Meir Lev, Minister of Sutton and District Synagogue. There were references to local experiences of hate crime in Sutton, along with a stall from the Safer Sutton Partnership on reporting hate crime, to bring a local perspective to the theme of ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’. There was also an exhibition with information and photographs on the theme.

ACTION BY LIBERAL DEMOCRAT COUNCILLORS LEADS TO EXTENSION OF “NO DRINKING” ZONE TO OUR WARD

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[ The corner of Cedar Road and Brighton Road, where drinkers sometimes congregate. This picture shows Sutherland House – it is hoped that the seat outside Sutherland House can be restored if the problems associated with public drinking in this area can be dealt with ]

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Sutton Council has extended what is popularly called the “No Drinking” zone to our Ward.

Even before we were elected, we were aware of the concerns of local residents and the problems of anti-social behaviour associated with a group of what are sometimes called “all day drinkers”. These people often congregated at the Brighton Road / Cedar Road intersection. 

Following a number of discussions that we, as Ward Councillors, had with the Council Executive member responsible for public order matters, Councillor Graham Tope, the Council has taken steps in a policy direction that we have advocated, to deal with the problem.

At present, the town centre in Sutton is a “Designated Public Place” – popularly called a “No Drinking” zone.  An effect is that the group of people who drink on the street for much of the day congregated just outside the zone, in particular at the street corner at the end of Cedar Road where it meets the Brighton Road. This is close to Forest Dene Court, a large block of flats for elderly people, some of whom have expressed to us their concern about this group of drinkers. Now, the Council has extended the zone to cover an area of Sutton South Ward.

The area covered is a square bordered by Cedar Road, Langley Park Road, Egmont Road and the Brighton Road. The police were able to provide evidence of anti-social behaviour associated with drinking to justify including this area in the zone. Now the zone is extended to this area, the police will monitor the effect. If the problem is simply displaced to a different area, consideration can be given to a further extension.  

The legal effect of the Designated Public Places Order is that if someone is drinking alcohol in public in this area the police can ask them to stop. If they do not stop, they are guilty of an offence.

The designation of the Sutton South zone was subject to public consultation. Statutory notices were placed in newspapers and on relevant websites on 11 January. Representations could be made during the consultation period, which ended on 7 February. A second statutory notice was published. The order came into force on 15 March 2011.

As your local Councillors, we are delighted with these developments, which we have pressed for, with the Council. We have had the support of the local police and the Sutton South police consultative committee (whose activities are reported elsewhere on this website, on the page on police matters). As a result of this development the police will be able to spend less time dealing with the anti-social behaviour associated with public drinking and spend more time on their two other priorities for our Ward, car crime and drug dealing.

When the results of the new measures are clear, we hope it will then be possible to restore the seat outside Sutherland House, which was removed as it became associated with public order problems caused by this group of people.

COUNCILLOR CLIFTON “DISAPPOINTED” AS CAMPAIGN TO SAVE WALLINGTON MAGISTRATES’ COURT FAILS

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[ Sutton Magistrates’ Court, in Wallington – click on any of the pictures on this site to see them full size ]

“The certainty of justice and the visibility of justice is eroded if justice is not sufficiently local.”

This was the message given by Councillor Richard Clifton, in his maiden speech since being elected to Sutton Council, on 6 December, when he called on the Ministry of Justice to re-think the proposal it has recently floated to close the only Magistrates’ Court House in Sutton, in Wallington.

Councillor Clifton stressed that important decisions that affect redress, justice and even people’s liberty will be taken on the basis of poorer evidence if people – including the victims of crime and witnesses to crime – are deterred from attending Court by the distance they have to travel.

He stressed two particular consequences:

– cases are lost because key witnesses do not show up

– magistrates from Sutton have a detailed and personal knowledge of the pertinent local issues, helpful in understanding a case such as a road traffic case, and this will be lost.

He was responding to a challenge by Tory Councillors to justify a statement in a motion presented to Council by Liberal Democrat Councillors, that the proposed closure would have an “inevitably damaging effect.”  The motion was eventually carried unanimously.

 

However, despite forceful lobbying and representations by local groups, the Ministry of Justice has now announced the planned closure of the Court house. Councillor Clifton said “I called for the campaign to continue as I felt the arguments were on our side. I am disappointed that the campaign has not come to a successful conclusion.”

 

COUNCILLOR HONOUR CONGRATULATES SUTTON SOUTH POLICE TEAM

 Councillor Heather Honour has congratulated Sergeant Dave Williams and the members of the Sutton South Safer Neighbourhoods Team after an amazing police coup, uncovering a cannabis factory in an empty office building in Sutton South Ward, Sutherland House.

Writing to Sergeant Williams, she said “Congratulations to you and your team on the discovery of the cannabis factory in Sutherland House.  What a very positive story for Sutton South Safer Neighbourhoods Team!”

Police uncovered one of the biggest cannabis factories ever found in Sutton Borough. The cannabis factory was over four floors of the disused office building at Sutherland House, Brighton Road, Sutton – just a few yards from Sutton train station.

Officers estimate the 6th to 9th floors of the building contained around 3,000 plants. Two of the floors contained plants three feet high that were within days of being harvested. The other floors contained a nursery, a drying room and living accommodation for two people complete with beds.

The cannabis factory was discovered after an electrician had been called to carry out some electrical work by the building’s management company. The electrician became suspicious and alerted a Police Community Support Officer, who was on patrol near the building at the time. Officers forced entry to the top floors and were astounded by what they found.

Forensics experts were called in to gather initial evidence and to take photographs whilst the police helicopter circled overhead in case the suspects were on the roof of the building. Sergeant Dave Williams, of Sutton South Safer Neighbourhoods Team, said: “It’s the biggest find I have ever had.”

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Sutherland House, where the cannabis factory was found, yards from Sutton rallway station.

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Sutton police station, the base for the Sutton South Safer Neighbourhoods Team.