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Islington council crime chief: Police officers changing boroughs ‘affecting relationships’

'The way people move upwards, it encourages officers to... change boroughs. It does not put a premium on the relationships we need'

12 July, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Islington council crime chief Andy Hull 

THE Town Hall’s crime chief has criticised the constant shuffling of police officers from one borough to another, saying there is a “systemic issue” in the Met that makes it harder to “forge relationships”.

Andy Hull, who has had the community safety brief in the borough’s cabinet since 2016, said that he and his fellow councilors have been “frustrated” by the high turnover of officers at all levels in Islington.

He said: “The way people move upwards, it encourages officers to… change boroughs. It does not put a premium on the relationships we need.”

His warning comes after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn convened a meeting to address violent crime in the Finsbury Park area after a spate of stabbings.

The meeting’s minutes note that the “discontinuity” in terms of police officers at “various levels not remaining in post for long” had made it hard to build “effective working relationships”.

Cllr Hull added: “This area of work relies heavily on human relationships which are formed between individuals, not between bureaucracies.”

Sheri Lawal, the chairwoman of Islington’s stop and search watchdog, added: “It is always going to be an issue if the police don’t get to know the community – then they don’t know the people, and they don’t know what is happening. It’s about trust.”

She claimed that a lack of knowledge of the local area may be adding to a low arrest rate after stop and search powers are used.

“If you’re not familiar with certain things you will think it is suspicious when it is not – that is [just] the way it is,” said Ms Lawal.

Raj Kohli is the fourth borough commander – the top role in the Islington ranks – in 12 months.

DCS Catherine Roper, Supt Nick Davies and DCS Iain Raphael all came and went.

Chief Supt Kohli said: “I took the BCU Commander post in March 2019 and I intend to be here for a minimum of two years, but in all likelihood, I will ask to remain here until the summer of 2022.

Raj Kohli, Islington’s borough commander, says he will stay in post for at least two years. 

“Police officers often feel the need to move roles after around 18 months or so, and that is understandable.”

He added: “I am looking at ways of encouraging more officers to stay in posts longer but I have to strike a balance.

“Those neighbourhood PCs and PCSOs that are in place work really hard, and for that I am grateful.”

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