|Local Police Teams Will Remain, Says New Police Chief|
Newly-appointed Borough Commander talks about terrorism threat and challenges for local police
The new police Borough Commander for Hounslow has said that police frontline 'visibility' will remain a high priority and he is in favour of strong neighbourhood policing teams, particularly in the wake of recent terrorist attacks.
Chief Superintendent Raj Kohli said that the borough remained on 'high alert' after the Paris atrocity, given the proximity of Heathrow Airport, and he encouraged members of the public to come forward if they were worried about anything that appeared suspicious, no matter how small.
There had not been any incidents of right-wing criminality reported across the borough in the wake of the Paris attacks. He had not seen any evidence of a place in the borough where 'radicalisation' was taking place.
Fears of a reduction in local police numbers appear to have receded for the moment following the Chancellor's decision in the Spending Review not to impose cutbacks in police budgets. According to the latest Met figures Hounslow has seen a 20 % drop in residential burglaries (in the 12 months prior to April 2015), and an 8 % drop in robberies- the borough is also rolling out the use of Smart Water, which leaves an indelible mark. The use of CCTV, social media, and tackling cybercrime, domestic abuse, and providing support for victims of crime, are also priorities. Chiswick is still a borough hotspot for theft from motor vehicles.
Supt Mike Hill
In a wide-ranging interview with chiswickw4.com and chiswickbuzz tv, both Chief Supt Kohli and his deputy, Supt Mike Hill, (who has moved over from Hammersmith borough), said they believed neighbourhood policing remained as a bedrock for the force. Both men worked together in Brent, and both were involved in policing during the London Olympics - Mr. Kohli wrote in his blog about his pride in taking part in the Parallel Events police team. He has two well-known brothers, broadcaster Hardeep Kohli and comedian/actor Sanjeev Kohli.
Mr. Kohli was also the policeman who announced the death of singer Amy Winehouse while he was based in Camden.
Borough Commander Kohli, (who is married with two grown up sons) was born in West Middlesex Hospital, but brought up in Glasgow, and has wanted to be a policeman since he was five. He said he believed that community policing was now safe from cutbacks but the force was still in a process of rationalisation- the service is still putting in place £1 billion in savings from the last spending review and has lost support staff.
The current neighbourhood policing structure actually offered more flexibility for officers to be called into areas when they were needed, despite the public 'misunderstanding' that the previous and more rigid model was better. Chiswick had actually gained more policing attention under the new system, he said.
You can hear about the challenges facing the boroughs two most senior policemen in this interview.