News

Police scrutiny board marred by ‘open hostility’ and ‘dominated by council’

The Safer Neighbourhood Board could be disbanded and replaced with an “alternative”
By Victoria Munro

The Safer Neighbourhood Board exists to allow the community to engage with and scrutinise police (credit: Met Police)
The Safer Neighbourhood Board exists to allow the community to engage with and scrutinise police (credit: Met Police)

A community group set up to scrutinise Waltham Forest police may be dissolved due to “open hostility” and fears it is being “dominated” by the council.

Safer Neighbourhood Boards, required by the Mayor of London and organised by councils, exist in all London boroughs to allow residents to scrutinise and guide the police.

In Waltham Forest, it is made up of three councillors and more than a dozen residents and recently discussed police’s “heavy-handedness” breaking up a fight between children.

However, at a meeting of the board on 22nd November, it was suggested it could be disbanded and replaced with “an alternative” due to long-running problems.


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A report prepared for the meeting read: “The current format of the board has proven to be flawed. It has become introverted, addressing internal issues and conflict rather than focusing on holding the police to account and engaging with the wider community.

“[There are] unnecessary personal comments exchanged between board members and the open hostility and antagonism between some individual members of the board. This is not conducive to debate or decision making.”

The report added that, while some members were happy about the level of support from Waltham Forest Council officers, others felt “the board had become too dependent on and dominated by the council”.

It continued: “The agenda, dates for the meetings are set by the council and the minutes do not always accurately reflect the discussion and decisions.”

It is hoped that a new alternative to the board may be better able to “focus on promoting engagement and holding the local police to account”.

However, the alternative would be an “interim” solution until the Mayor’s office completes its review of all “community engagement mechanisms”, including the boards.


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