Marlowe Road Estate resident Michelle Edwards on the impact of recent police cuts
At exactly the point where I was trying to figure out the content of my next column, the government announced a £450million increase in police funding across England and Wales for 2018/19. Counter terrorism police funding will also increase by around £50m.
As is so often the case, with any announcement, it’s the small print which hides important information. The cash injection will be funded by an annual rise in council tax bills of £12 per household. Sneakily dressing up a tax increase is hardly a cause for seasonal cheer.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan had previously confirmed that more than half of London’s 73 remaining police front counters were to close – including Walthamstow Town Centre Police Office. It leaves just the front counter at Chingford Police Station open in the borough. This is the same mayor that once took a swipe at his predecessor Boris Johnson for similar cuts in 2013, directing him to “put the safety of local people before party politics”.
My fear of living in Walthamstow’s Marlowe Road Estate has peaked in recent weeks. In November I was woken by a fellow resident asking if I had heard about a shooting outside the Charcoal Grill kebab shop the previous night. I hadn’t, so called the police, who confirmed a 17-year-old boy “remained in a stable condition”.
Little did I know that I would have my own brush with death 12 days later. Outside my front door one evening I found countless bottles of half-drunk alcohol and discarded food. I asked the young people responsible to remove their litter but before I knew it, a thug was holding a bottle to my left cheek threatening to conduct his own surgical procedure. Somehow I managed to dial 999 despite him knocking my mobile out of my hand.
The police arrived within minutes and I couldn’t have asked them to be more compassionate, particularly when the tears fell down my cheeks. After taking my statement, an officer promised to look into registering my address and mobile number as a priority for call-outs. A few days later I was indeed calling 999 again, when the same group returned outside my front door. Unfortunately the police never arrived on this occasion.
A search through the crime-mapping website police.uk, which allows the public to see offences reported in their local street by entering a street name or postcode, documents street-level crime and anti-social behaviour in my neighbourhood peaking in April, May, July, August, and September.
The continuation of savage police cuts by the mayor means our local police will now be based in neighbouring borough Newham (East Ham). A close locality is how intelligence is gathered, the reason drugs and samurai-sword type knives are regularly confiscated from young people on this estate. What happens the next time they decide to exert themselves?