Hopes and fears around crime in Brent addressed at public meeting

28 August 2019

Over 115 residents joined Council, community and Police leaders at a public meeting in Harlesden to discuss violent crime last Thursday (22nd). The Time to Talk event was organised in response to a series of incidents that have made headlines in recent months.

The evening, held at Roundwood Youth Centre, opened with a myth-busting quiz. Despite a number of high profile incidents, police figures show knife crime incidents in Brent are far less frequent than they were 12 months ago. Residents heard how the number of crimes involving knives has dropped 31%.

Attendees then spoke open and honestly about their concerns. They challenged the panel to give more details around early intervention programmes and youth activities, as well as the level of policing in the borough. Answering their questions were:

- Louis Smith, Superintendent, Neighbourhood Policing, Met Police

- Cllr Tom Miller, Cabinet Member for Community Safety

- Ace Ruele, Actor and Brent resident with lived experience

- Patricia Wharton, Social entrepreneur and Chalkhill Community Radio presenter

The Police have introduced a dedicated team to address violent offenders, while the Council has been making better use of data, analysing trends to make sure agencies are able to intervene earlier. A recent £2.5m investment in CCTV across the borough means trained officers can use cameras to identify young people potentially at risk if seen with older known gang members.

Finally, attendees were asked to think about what more could be done to reduce violent crime in Brent.

Cllr Tom Miller, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: "I'm grateful to everybody who turned out and joined the conversation. There is no one solution, which is why we need to work together. The encouraging news is that serious violence is on the way down. We cannot afford to be complacent, but there is a lot of good work already happening that we can build on.

"We welcome fresh thinking and I encourage anyone who wants to work with us to give people alternatives to violence to explore the community funding that is available for projects."

Launched by Brent Council in 2016, the Time to Talk series encourages open dialogue about difficult issues like domestic abuse, youth violence and hate crime.

For more information about community project funding, go to: https://www.brent.gov.uk/your-community/community-and-voluntary-sector-support/community-grants-and-funding/