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Plummeting stop and search numbers in Barking and Dagenham spark demand for increase

PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 March 2019

Panel members include (from right to left) vice-chairman, Rita Giles, Cllr Margaret Mullane, chairman Steve Thompson, Ch Insp Lisa Butterfield and Insp John Goodwin. Picture: JON KING

Panel members include (from right to left) vice-chairman, Rita Giles, Cllr Margaret Mullane, chairman Steve Thompson, Ch Insp Lisa Butterfield and Insp John Goodwin. Picture: JON KING

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The number of stop and searches has plummeted from more than 1,000 per month six years ago to under 250, figures show.

News of the fall led to calls for an increase at a public meeting called by the Barking and Dagenham safer neighbourhood panel at Dagenham and Redbridge FC in Victoria Road on Thursday.

About 60 people stood for a minute’s silence at the beginning of the meeting to pay respects to Jodie Chesney, Che Morrison and all this year’s victims of knife crime.

Panel chairman, Stephen Thompson MBE, said: “It’s really, really tragic that anybody loses their life like this. As a community we need to do more, but we also need to ask questions of the police.”

The audience was shown figures for the borough which revealed that knife crime with injury was down 26 per cent year on year while gun crime and anti-social behaviour had dropped 17pc and 18pc respectively.

Steve Thompson MBE and Ch Inps Lisa Butterfield. Picture: JON KINGSteve Thompson MBE and Ch Inps Lisa Butterfield. Picture: JON KING

However, house burglaries, sex offences and motor vehicle theft rose 4.5pc, 5.2pc and 7.4pc respectively across Barking and Dagenham.

The borough was ranked fourth lowest in London for victim satisfaction, according to the Met figures.

Asked what was being done about knife crime, Ch Insp Lisa Butterfield said officers were talking to youngsters in schools and looking to increase stop and searches. But parents and carers also have a responsibility to make sure their children don’t carry knives.

“We’re horrified by [knife crime]. But [tackling] it starts at home as well,” Ch Insp Butterfield said.

Mr Thompson said a lack of police confidence and public outcry over people from black and minority ethnic communities being targeted helped explain the drop in stop and searches.

He added that figures showed there was no such bias in the borough.

“Senior police officers should have the confidence to do more,” he said.

Ch Insp Butterfield said she was pushing her officers to carry out more.

Cllr Margaret Mullane, the council’s cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, added that it was a sad indictment that officers were now going into primary schools to talk about knife crime.

More needed to be done to combat low-level anti-social behaviour to avoid it building up to worse crimes, she said.

“That’s a big piece of work that has not been cracked,” she added.

And there were calls for the Met to honour a commitment to put dedicated police officers in every school across the force’s basic command unit (BCU) covering Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering.

Currently there are between 25 and 35 across the BCU, the meeting heard, but the figures vary.

For more details about safer neighbourhood panel meetings email stacey.gibson@lbbd.gov.uk

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