Building trust and confidence in the local police

North Area BCU Commander DCS Treena Fleming tells TCP how her officers are building relationships of trust in the community.

Protest presence in Tottenham High Road Credit: Stephen Furner

By Luchia Robinson

North Area Basic Command Unit (BCU) commander, Detective Chief Superintendent Treena Fleming says her team of officers are working hard to build the community’s confidence in the police.

DCS Fleming says incidents reported in the media over the last year “may have impacted on confidence in the police service,” and that it is important that communities in Tottenham and within the wider North Area of Haringey and Enfield can trust them.

Last month, TCP reported on the case of a police officer caught on video using excessive force on a Black teenage boy.

In response to this incident, which is currently being investigated by the IOPC (Independent Office for Police Conduct), DCS Fleming said: “I do understand that that caused a lot of distress, I understand how that looked like, and I don’t want to be in that position where youngsters or police officers are being injured.

“I would just urge people to remember that, distressing as some of these videos can appear, that it’s a small snapshot in time of a much larger incident.”

DCS Treena Fleming

The goal for DCS Fleming is ensuring local communities feel safe when engaging with the police as well as when in the community.

“Where someone is unhappy with use of force or with an interaction they have with a police officer, I want them to either talk to that police officer about it, tell a supervisor to make a complaint, or go to one of our independent monitoring groups, such as the Haringey Independent Stop and Search Monitoring Group. I want to know about it, because that gives me an opportunity as BCU commander to look into it.

“I need all of our communities to tell me what’s going on so that I can keep them safe. If they don’t feel confident in talking to us, then there’s a problem, and that’s the bit that I need overcome.”

The local police say they are addressing mistrust, particularly within Black communities and amongst young people aged 18-24, via community discussions. This includes working with community partners to coordinate school and college visits, sports initiatives, safer neighbourhood panels and ward forums.

DCS Fleming said: “I think that we have moved on as a police service so much from 20, 30 or 40 years ago, but we need to have those conversations.

“Of course, we don’t always get it right on every occasion and where we don’t get it right, we will always seek to learn.”

The North Area police have commissioned a survey for Haringey and Enfield residents in order to understand how they feel about policing in their communities and their perceptions of local stop and search use.

Almost half of all stop and searches conducted between April and March 2019 in England and Wales took place in London, with there being 22 searches for every 1,000 people. Black people had the highest stop rates by ethnicity. Stop and searches increased by 52% in the year ending March 2020.

There were 18,081 stop and searches carried out under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act − an increase of 35%.

Section 60 powers (authorised within a defined area and time period) have been widely contested by some justice campaigners, as they allow for searches without grounds for suspicion; because of this, there can be more scope for abuses of power.

76% of the combined stops and searches in the year ending March 2020, resulted in no further action.

“I’m very mindful about how people feel about section 60, so we use it sparingly when we need to − when there’s the intelligence and the grounds to do so, and we will only apply it to the wards where there might be violent crime happening.

“I think stop and search used correctly is an effective tactic. It is successful in that I’ve seen the results of it; I’ve seen machetes on the streets of Haringey seized – that’s a potential murder weapon that could cause someone serious harm.

“I put my resources where my crime is, unfortunately when I look at my crime hotspots, Tottenham Hale, Tottenham Green, White Hart Lane – that’s where a lot of my robbery offending overlaps my violent crime.”

DCS Fleming says that there were less homicides in the North Area in 2020 than in 2019 and that violent crime has been significantly reduced. A combination of policing and Covid-19 restrictions seeing robberies down 51.4% compared to this time last year.

She added: “I hope this instils confidence in our residents, that we are deterring crime by arresting offenders, but we’re also working in conjunction with partners to prevent crime in the first place.”

To fill out the police confidence survey: smartsurvey.co.uk/s/NA_Confidence_Survey

For more information on the Haringey Independent Stop and Search Monitoring Group: haringeystopandsearch.co.uk

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