Town Hall ponders crime hotline for reporting suspicious activity

Hackney Town Hall

Hackney Town Hall.

Hackney Council is mulling over plans for a dedicated phone line for residents to report “suspicious or sudden” changes in their neighbourhoods.

The plan was generated from a list of 22 proposals put forward at a May meeting of Hackney North and Stoke Newington Labour’s Ethnic Minority Forum (EMF) on gun and knife crime.

The scheme was touted by the EMF as a way for parents, schools, faith centres or any member of the public with concerns to be able to discreetly give information without involving the police.

An official 21 November response to the EMF’s proposals from Cllr Caroline Selman (Lab, Woodberry Down), cabinet member for community safety, policy and the voluntary sector, reads: “Our community engagement work has identified the need for parents and concerned members of the community to have a route to raise concerns and to access advice or support.

“This is also reflected in aspects of the contextual safeguarding work.

“We will actively be taking this forward as a workstream, including exploring options for an accessible contact route.”

Kofo David, ethnic minority officer for Hackney North and Stoke Newington Labour, hailed the response as a “big step forward” in tackling serious violent crime.

David said: “The hotline was one of the proposals, which I think is good. The spate of knife crime is appalling, and it’s good to hear the council is essentially listening to public consultation, and taking steps forward.

“We welcome working with them, and we understand the council are happy to continue working with us, so it’s a step in the right direction.”

The proposals include a call to address the high rates of school exclusions in the borough, the need for a detailed map of services and opportunities to be located in one place, and further scrutiny of the use of the Metropolitan Police’s Gang Matrix System.

On the map of services across the borough, Cllr Selman’s response reads: “There are genuine challenges around creating a truly universal directory in a borough which has as much going on as Hackney does, in particular in terms of making sure it remains up to date.

“However, we agree there is a need to build on the above to make sure that communication is more comprehensive (including in terms of the range of activities undertaken in the Voluntary & Community Sector), accessible and effective, and this is an area we will be actively taking forward.”

David said: “There is no map is the long and short of the whole thing, so quite happy to work with them to develop a coherent map or strategy, since the door for dialogue is open, we can at least start moving forward.”

Cllr Selman said: “Supporting parents and working with the local community is at the heart of what we do as a council every day, and there is a wealth of support available for families across Hackney, from our Young Hackney hubs to contextual safeguarding and the great work being done by partners, including the Crib’s Parent’s Voice app.

“However, we acknowledge that there is a need to build on this, both locally and across London, and this is something that we are continuing to explore with partners.”

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