Our most recent guest column published in the Richmond and Twickenham Times this week as penned by South Richmond's three councillors, Pamela Fleming, Peter Buckwell, and Bill Newton Dunn.

Richmond is one of the most pleasant places in London and very special to most of us who are fortunate to live here. The Town Centre with the Green and Riverside is unrivalled in South West London. Our quality of life, however, is marred by crime, particularly an increase in violent crime. In the year to February 2019, 1,688 crimes were committed in South Richmond Ward, including 207 burglaries and 107 robberies. The total of crimes in other wards over the same period ranges from 977 to 446.

The biggest concern for everyone is the increase in violent crime and in particular the vicious muggings of teenage boys, but there has also been an escalation in drug activity and professional begging. Since the new Borough Command Unit was set up merging Richmond with Kingston, Merton and Wandsworth, response times have increased with a fifteen-minute response target.

Many residents have contacted us about their concerns over the level of crime in Richmond. Some have signed petitions and others joined conversations on social media. There is a general feeling that Richmond is becoming less safe than it used to be and we share those worries

Crime in South Richmond has always been higher than other wards. That isn't surprising given that Richmond is not just a residential town, but a busy tourist venue, with a large number of businesses and a lively night-time economy. However, it has been given the same policing resources as other wards. That is one Sergeant, shared with North Richmond and Kew, two Police Constables and one Police Community Support Officer. With the closure of the Sovereign Gate Police Station our Safer Neighbourhood Team no longer has a base in the ward and has to commute from Twickenham.

Our police do an excellent job trying to keep us safe and we have admiration for them, but the Safer Neighbourhood team has to cover the whole ward not just the Town Centre and shift patterns mean they are not on duty every day. Although they have been working hours of overtime to increase patrols, this cannot continue indefinitely, and Richmond Town Centre needs a police presence on the streets every day.

Much is going on to support our excellent Ward Safer Neighbourhood Police Team:

• The community is playing its part with a strong Neighbourhood Watch group.

• The business community, through the Business Improvement District, employs two security staff who work in collaboration with the Police.

• There are volunteer Street Pastors

• Your Ward Councillors are Working with the Council's Community Safety Manager on problems of begging and homelessness.

• The Council's Park Guard have been requested to patrol open spaces like the Vineyard Passage Burial Ground and area around St Mary Magdalene Church to deter drug activity.

• Contributions from filming in Richmond have been used to purchase two mobile CCTV cameras and to fund another event to raise awareness about the risks of scams

• A base in the Ward for the Safer Neighbourhood Team is being actively sought.

Additional funding is being made available. The Council have allocated a further £100,000 for policing across the Borough and the Government is making additional funds available for policing across London. We are looking for some of this to be allocated to the policing of Richmond Town Centre.

We appreciate the work that is being done to target criminals and recent successes with arrests and charges are to be welcomed. This, however, should not be a substitute for adequate regular policing of Richmond Town Centre, the Riverside and the Green. We are calling for the provision of a dedicated Town Team of two Police Constables or a PC and a PCSO for policing the Town Centre, Riverside and Green every day. This in addition to the existing Ward Safer Neighbourhood Team.

Richmond is still a very safe place to live, work and visit but if we are going to stop the increase in robbery and prevent crime there must be a police presence every day in and around the Town Centre.