main attraction at the Crime and Disorder meeting is usually the Borough Police Commander’s report
(Agenda Item 8) where he tells everyone how wonderful things are in Bexley but he had been somewhat
eclipsed by his Chief Inspector.
Sure, Supt. Ayling made the almost mandatory announcement that Bexley continues to
have the lowest number crimes per 1,000 of population in London but the rest of his
statistics, provided on a couple of sides of A4, were rather too cryptic for me.
For example, my eyes initially alighted on the statement “Robbery. Rolling year performance is +1·6% which places Bexley 32nd in the MPS” from which I assumed that robberies were at a low level placing Bexley in the best position, bottom of the table. However the Superintendent, engaged excuse mode and attempted to explain the poor performance. It transpires that robberies are up on last year and the 1·6% increase is the worst in London. The relatively low numbers involved probably makes this look more serious than it is.
Having learned to interpret that statistic correctly I can pass on the information that burglaries are 0·7% lower putting Bexley in 19th place. Criminal damage, down 17·9%, 9th place. Theft from motor vehicles, down 2·1%, 13th place. Theft of motor vehicles down 13·5% and 8th place. Theft from person, down 2·6%, 14th place. Violence down 23·2% and 2nd place and most cryptic of all, that Bexley is in Xth place for public confidence.
So a result far from being spectacularly bad but I do wonder how sound the basis for such statistics is. If a Commander gets his crime numbers down to just one and the following year he slips up and scores two, then he’ll register a 100% increase and be placed in the worst position in London while almost certainly delivering the lowest crime rate. Meaningless statistics. Music to Bexley council’s ears.
Chairman Alan Downing then meandered off on a self indulgent digression wanting to hear “the Romanian story” again like a three year old addicted to The Big Bad Wolf at bedtime. Apparently a Romanian gang of eight had been arrested and in the wards in which they operated, burglaries had fallen from four or five a day to none.
Not to be outdone, councillor Val Clark said she could see some odd goings on in the Cinema Car Park opposite, and CI Loebenburg was despatched to investigate. He returned a couple of minutes later to report that Bexley council had been wasting police time again - or polite words to that effect.
Agenda Item 9 dealt with councillor Brian Bishop’s sub-group and their review of the Bexley Community Safety Partnership. It had recommended that “The learning of English as a second language should be actively encouraged, particularly for those who have lived in the UK for some time“. It met with general agreement which is in stark contrast to when I made the same suggestion to Bexley council and was labelled a racist for my pains.
Cabinet member Don Massey opined that “a lot of money could be spent on that”. Good to see him awake after all.
Another recommendation was to include an article on reporting crime in the Bexley magazine - which is published entirely in English.
Moving on to Agenda Item 10, Funding, Deputy Director Bryce-Smith said the bid for finance for the Bobby Van scheme which provides home security and advice had failed, whilst Bromley’s had not so Bexley had had to dig into its own pocket. Maybe he should ask his Bromley counterpart how to organise a competent bid.
Finally, councillors O’Hare and Read both though it would be fun to organise another sub-group and provide an impoverished councillor with a chairman’s fee. The former suggested a look at violence towards children and Read fancied himself with gangs and violent behaviour; councillor Melvin Seymour’s expertise in that field would be invaluable. The chairman ruled in favour of violence towards children and then declared the meeting closed at 22:22.