Sophie Linden with police, councillors and council officers at Grahame Park Estate
Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Sophie Linden has visited Barnet to hear how a ground-breaking police operation has led to hundreds of arrests.
The ‘Clear, Hold Build’ framework, centred on the Grahame Park Estate in Colindale, has seen local officers from the Metropolitan Police Service engage in a coordinated crackdown on gang-related and organised crime in the area.
Figures show that since the operation began in July last year, officers have made 311 arrests – including 60 for Class A drug offences.
The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime visited the estate on Friday for a briefing on the outcomes of the first phase and other community safety initiatives, including the council’s new CCTV network.
Built in the 1970s and currently undergoing regeneration, the Grahame Park Estate has long been a target for criminal activity.
Responding to residents’ concerns around anti-social behaviour and drug dealing in the area, the Met trialled a new approach that is aimed at disrupting crime and preventing it from returning.
Directed by local policing teams, in collaboration with officers from specialist Crime, the public and other partners, the crackdown has led to the seizure of £30,000 in cash, 55kg in Class A drug blocks, over 2,000 wraps of Class A, and 6kg of cannabis.
Officers have recovered eight firearms and 52 knives or other weapons.
Local officers have been aided by a £2.3million upgrade and expansion of Barnet Council’s CCTV network, which has a new control room located in Colindale.
Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, said: “It has been good to see such strong partnership work here in Colindale and to hear about the real difference that this policing approach is already making to the sense of safety and quality of life in the area. I look forward to seeing how the partnership continues to develop to make the Grahame Park Estate a safer place to live.
“The Mayor and I know how important neighbourhood policing is in tackling crime, violence and rebuilding trust and confidence in the police in our communities. From City Hall, we have invested record amounts in the Met Police and funded an additional 1,300 police officers on our streets to reinvigorate frontline policing. This is alongside the Mayor funding 500 new Police Community Support Officers to deal with local priorities and issues that matter most to residents as we continue our work to build a better and safer London for everyone.”
Police have now moved from the ‘Clear’ to the ‘Hold’ phase of the operation, which is designed to stabilise the area and stop offenders from moving in to fill the void. The ‘Build’ phase will see community-driven action to address the causes of crime and prevent it from happening again.
Bina Omare, Chief Executive of Colindale Communities Trust, said: “The Clear, Hold, Build pilot has highlighted the strength of partnerships and listening to the voice of the community.
“The positive impact we have seen on residents’ health and wellbeing, along with a significant reduction in anxiety, reflects the success of this collaborative approach, especially seeing children playing outside. The ongoing partnership holds promise for further community growth and unity.”
Cllr Sara Conway, Barnet Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Participation, said: “We are so pleased to see the impact this transformative programme has made for residents in combatting serious organised crime.
“Together with major investment in CCTV, a borough-wide Public Space Protection Order, community safety hubs and walks, our strong support for this initiative underlines our commitment to making community safety a priority for this council.
“We thank the many Police and council teams involved, as well as the community organisations and residents who have supported and shaped this work from the start, and look forward to creating new opportunities for local communities together.”
Detective Superintendent Will Lexton-Jones, in charge of delivering Clear, Hold, Build for the Met, said: “I am delighted with the progress made and the ambition embodied by everyone involved in making Grahame Park Estate a safer place to live. Clear, Hold, Build is one example of how the Met is working locally to cut serious and organised crime, and restore our bond with communities across London.
“We have listened to concerns raised by residents and responded by taking decisive action to tackle long-running issues in the area such as drug dealing and anti-social behaviour.
“The Met will continue to work closely with the local authority and other key partners to design out crime, ensure offenders are kept out of Barnet and to help build a thriving community.”