Lib Dem Councillors on the road with the Police in Ealing: what does a stop and search look like close-up?

By Guest

11th Sep 2023 | Opinion

Councillor Connie Hersch, Liberal Democrat Opposition Spokesperson for Policing and Councillor Gary Malcolm, Leader of the Opposition

The Liberal Democrat councillors in Ealing were 'on the beat' with a local police team on the streets of Ealing to observe how the police tries to keep our neighbourhoods safe. Uniformed police on the streets are a very reassuring sight for many residents – not for all though.

Liberal Democrats in Ealing are on the ground listening to your concerns make Ealing safe following a large number of reports of anti-social behaviour in the Hanwell area.

Walking with officers makes it very clear, that they are trained to pick up on the smallest signs very quickly which reveal issues to them and make them request a stop and search. They don't stop people randomly but need to have seen, heard or smelt something suspicious. In the case we witnessed, it was the clear of the strong smell of cannabis in a local park which led to a stop and search on two people. 

How does a stop and search work: the officers give clear reasons why they will search and how the search will take place and they gave simple explanations along the way. They wore gloves and the three officers used cameras to record the event. The officers behaved in a non-threatening, friendly manner and tried to reassure the searched persons. One of the officers watched to ensure that they could protect the other officers if any violence was placed against them. In this case the two people stopped and searched were relaxed and answered all the questions they were asked.

Any report on a search can be requested by the searched individual up to three months after the search. In this case only simple drug paraphernalia were found but not enough evidence for a formal warning (which are given twice before fines are issued or other actions taken). Other searches are a bit less harmless and can retrieve stolen goods or weapons.

Liberal Democrats after listening to many people report issues in Hanwell, want to see the police and Ealing Council work hand in hand to do everything possible to reduce the anti-social behaviour here and elsewhere in the borough. People now do not feel safe on our streets. Liberal Democrats want to see our streets safe and clean so reducing and solving anti-social behaviour issues should be a real priority.

Despite that, the police team cannot be everywhere even if their shifts are 10 hours or more long, and it would be good to have more of them on our streets again as it was ten years or so ago. The ambition for the Metropolitan Police is to recruit 500 new officers but at the moment, they need to focus on known hot spots or around tube/train stations and local parks.

When we asked about anti-social behaviour in Hanwell it was clear that the different teams report and deal with issues within their own units (the central and the ward based teams) but the information does not appear to be shared so when we asked for progress on particular topics, they were not always able to give a full answer. Liberal Democrats say that it appeared that although the Council were involved in some aspects of the anti-social behaviour the police were not aware of the actions taken by the Council.

One officer said that some of the anti-social had been reduced compared to a year ago (despite members of the public saying the opposite) it might be that some of the policing has moved crime towards nearby West Ealing.

Given some of the anti-social behaviour relates to drinking and people taking drugs, it seems to the police and the Council need to be stronger at ensuring that dodgy shops selling illegally made alcohol are closed down or are made to only sell alcohol to those legally allowed to buy it.

The police react to reports from the public to identify local areas of concern. If you see something which could be a police matter, it is best to report it to the local police teams. Search for 'Safer Neighbourhood Team' and you will find one in your area.


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