Following the recent incidents of violent crime in the borough, Brent Borough Commander - Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Gallagher, talks us through the police response; a series of arrests made last week, a heightened police presence in target areas and, following concern from the community, the police station in Kilburn to remain open.
Crime in Brent is decreasing. The Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) gave the police in Brent a target of reducing crime across the borough by 20 per cent. Despite being one of the most challenged boroughs in London, they have gone beyond this target and reduced crime by 22.5 per cent. Some of the crimes which have seen a significant reduction are criminal damage, robbery, theft from a motor vehicle, theft from a person, theft of a motor vehicle and violence with injury.
But what about the recent incidents of violent crime? What work is being done to address them? Mick explains:
"Despite there being several incidents of violent crime over the past year, the overall trend is that there has been a reduction in violent crime in Brent. However, frankly, one incident of violent crime is one too many.
"What we do to address incidents of violent crime is extremely important in reassuring the public that we are doing all we can to keep them safe. Since the recent incidents, we have stepped up the police presence in target areas, increased the number of 'stop and searches' and followed this up with other policing methods to ensure evidence is collected on the perpetrators. Since last summer, Trident and local police gang crime units have been proactively targeting gang and knife crime as daily business.
"These tactics came to a climax last Thursday when police visited a total of 12 addresses across the borough and arrested nine men on suspicion of drugs offences and one for possession of a taser. A taser and a quantity of drugs were recovered. The raids were part of a wider anti-gang operation to reduce gang violence and remove gang related drug dealers from the streets of Brent."
So if a resident has a concern or an issue, how is that responded to?
"Our communities in Brent are generally very supportive of the police and we know it's important to listen to them. We have dedicated ward officers whose job it is to liaise with residents in their ward, collect local intelligence and feed any concerns or issues back to their superiors who will plan a response.
"It's very important to me that the police in Brent listen to resident's concerns and respond to them appropriately."
"Two and a half years ago, an announcement was made that the police station in Kilburn would close. We asked Mick what's happened since then:
"Following that announcement, there was a lot of unhappiness expressed from the community in Kilburn regarding the closure. Because of this, I have been in continued negotiation regarding the station and can confirm that this police station will not now close."
What advice would Mick give the community in keeping Brent safe?
"Brent does this really well already - it's a cosmopolitan, cohesive borough where communities live alongside each other really well. This is evidenced in the fact that when the riots took place in 2011, this borough didn't have any part in them.
"It is often the community driving the issues in this borough and it is our responsibility to listen to them. For example, we are working with a group of residents in Harlesden at the moment to address some of their concerns. If a member of the community is aware of an issue, I would encourage them to report it to us, anonymously if they wish."
"Overall, the people in Brent are happy with the police service and year-on-year there has been improvement in terms of people's satisfaction with them, especially in terms of the way the police in Brent investigate a crime, their follow-up process and their response to incidents of violent crime. We asked Mick why he thinks this is:
"Brent is a borough that attracts some of the finest police officers in London and the public are often unaware of the excellent examples of police work that take place every day. For our police officers, it's not just a job; our workforce are very vibrant, enthusiastic and busy. They want to be here as many agree it is a great environment to work in and they want to engage with the community to tackle crime and issues."
So what are the main challenges going forward?
"Our main challenge is around preventative measures; getting to people early before they get into a life of crime or become victimised. Brent has one of the fastest growing youth populations in London so we've made it a priority to look at the vulnerable going forward; those who could be susceptible to sexual exploitation, involvement in gang crime or prone to radicalisation.
"The professional way we interact with our communities, both business and residential is also key to providing the reassurance many people need to help engender a feeling of safety and law and order. My role, primarily, I see as creating the conditions for peace within which communities can thrive.
"We know however, that we cannot do this alone. We already work very cohesively with the council and I have a great relationship with the political leader - Cllr Muhammed Butt and Chief Executive - Carolyn Downs. Our relationship with many schools in Brent is really strong and we have a number of partners across Brent whom we are working with to create a programme whereby people involved in criminality can be deterred from continuing in that lifestyle.
I am positive about the future; crime levels will continue to fall, the borough as a whole is becoming safer and satisfaction with the police is continually improving, in particular as our reach into our many communities increases. I am very clear on getting the message out that we do not tolerate anti-social behaviour, violent crime or any criminality that impacts on people's quality of life in Brent."
Anyone with information about a crime should call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
If you are worried about a young person being exploited call the Family Front Door service on 020 8937 4300.
In an emergency - always dial 999.