Patrolling with Orpington Town Team
I was very pleased to meet local police commanders and officers recently.
This was a chance for me to directly hear about their activities in the constituency, ranging from how they deal with anti-social behaviour, respond to crime reports, schedule regular patrols, as well engage with the wider community.
Many officers go above and beyond in pursuit of their duties, making difficult sacrifices in their personal and professional lives, which are sadly not always recognised.
Having spoken with many of the officers assembled at their base, it was clear how much pride they take in their roles. Serving the public is not just a job, it is a worthy calling.
I am aware that many residents have written to me in recent months with concerns about police visibility.
That is why I and the Orpington 1st Business Improvement District had been lobbying for a dedicated Town Team with a specific remit for Orpington town. This was initially spurred by issues surrounding deterrence and business safety.
I was incredibly pleased when this 7-strong squad was confirmed earlier this year, so it was fantastic to see them perform their duties first-hand and go out on patrol with them.
We crossed the Walnuts Centre and spoke with local businesses and community groups, as well as Priory Gardens. Anti-social behaviour and, even worse, animal cruelty have been recurring issues which the police are working hard to prevent.
It was disturbing to hear that some teenagers attempt to shoot the wildfowl with catapults and ball bearings the size of grapes, which could not only cause serious injury or even death to the animals, but also – if they miss their intended target – to people simply going about their business.
Thanks to stop and search powers, one police constable already made two related arrests back in the summer, which is commendable.
However, this zero-tolerance approach to animal abuse needs to be reinforced to help dissuade any further activity.
This visit was also an opportunity for the police to speak with me about the resources they need to best carry out their tasks. We discussed the recruitment process and how to enthuse more people to seek a career in the police, as well as more difficult subjects such as how police time has been stretched by a reliance on them for non-criminal situations.
I am grateful to the police for hosting me and I will be taking up the issues we discussed with local providers and Ministers on their behalf.