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Meet Croydon’s new borough commander

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Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe took over the role of Borough Commander for Croydon, a town with which he has close personal and family ties, on December 10th 2016.

He previously held a similar position in Bexley after serving 24 years with the British Transport Police and 12 years with the CID, working in a variety of roles including deputy senior investigating officer on the Hatfield Train Crash. He also has extensive public order and events planning experience covering such events as the 2012 Olympics, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Notting Hill Carnival.

Here we talk to the new Borough Commander about some of the challenges faced and the work and plans that he and his team aim to deliver in the future.

1.     What do you see are the biggest challenges facing policing in Croydon town centre?

The biggest challenge is to create a Complementary Policing Style of approach, where there is a mixed economy of police officers, police community support officers, special constables, cadets, volunteers and security staff who are accredited: all working together in partnership, sharing information and having joint operating protocols. My goal is to provide a truly effective and efficient policing model which fully incorporates all partners including the local authority and businesses.

2. What are the benefits – and challenges - of working together with the business community?

The benefits are quite clear to me. We should all have a shared vision to create a truly vibrant Croydon; a Croydon where people feel confident to visit the area and enjoy all that it has to offer. The benefits of working together are that we can collectively achieve this joint goal and reap the rewards of the positive outcomes this will bring. The challenge is ensuring everyone plays their part and remains focused on the outcome which we are seeking to achieve, rather than be distracted, for whatever reason.

3. What are your thoughts on the role which business crime partnerships and BID’s play with regard to crime prevention, safety and security?

I believe effective and efficient business crime partnerships like the Croydon Business Crime Reduction Partnership that already successfully operates here in Croydon town centre are an essential element in the future progression of Croydon helping to achieve its strategic aim of being a destination location, where people want to live, work and enjoy themselves. Croydon BID has a vital role in co-ordinating, collaborating and seeking consensus within the business community and the CBCP has made significant strides in helping to cut crime and anti-social behaviour in the town through intelligence-sharing and collaborative working.  

4.   What initiatives are in place and planned for the future to tackle town centre crime?

I believe that a consistent problem solving partnership approach is the most effective method in dealing with current and future crime. There will be times where, due to specific intelligence or a spike in particular crime, we may run specific initiatives to tackle that problem.   November’s day-long joint agency blitz on retail crime in the town centre is a good example of what can be achieved when everyone pulls together. In the meantime, the Met is continually looking at new and improved ways of working and the introduction of body worn cameras in Croydon from the start of the year is an important step towards bringing about speedier justice and greater transparency.   

5.     What is the current position on police resource in the town centre – both during the day and at night?

We provide resources from our Town Centre Team, which is part-funded by Croydon BID, in order to focus on the issues of concern; these officers are supported by our response teams, safer neighbourhood teams and criminal investigation department. We also regularly bid for central assets which provide an enhanced level of resources and support.

6.     You recently went on a night-shift patrol in the town centre – what was your experience and how do you plan to work with the night time economy going forward?

My first shift was an opportunity to go out and see the night time economy at first hand. Croydon Council has some very ambitious plans for the Night Time Economy going forward. I was fortunate to be invited to the Night Time Economy Conference held at Croydon College, at which the Mayor for London, Sadiq Khan and the new Night Time Tsar were present. I believe it is vitally important that I work closely with all partners and local businesses to create a truly effective approach.

7.     Is the gap between perceptions of crime and the reality any closer and how do you regard the public’s confidence in the police?

Against the seven measures set for the Police by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), Croydon MPS has been able to reduce crime by more than 20% over the past four years and this is a fantastic achievement. However the public’s confidence levels, which are more about their overall experience and how safe people feel, are low. I do not believe this should be viewed purely as a policing issue though, as many environmental factors such as graffiti, litter and burnt-out cars, can impact upon a person’s confidence levels.

8.     What one bit of advice would you give to businesses to help reduce business crime?

Seek advice from our crime prevention officers; work with other partners and businesses to ensure there is a collective approach to tackling crime. Do not try and do this alone; it is more effective to work in partnership.

9. We know that retail crime is vastly under reported, are there any plans in place to help bolster relationships with businesses and encourage them to report it?

I would encourage all victims of any crime to report it to the police. Under reporting is an issue for many reasons. If we are not aware of the true picture of crime then we cannot provide a truly effective response. Crime trends and intelligence are all vital in assisting us in bringing offenders to justice and ultimately preventing crime. I would ask that you work with us to achieve this aim.

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