Richmond and Twickenham Times sat down at the start of the year with officers from Teddington's neighbourhood police unit to discuss the state of affairs going into 2020

PC Bryce Scott Jones and PC Thomas Richards from Met Police Teddington and PC Nick Cheadle from Met Police Hampton Wick all joined in with the conversation.

Knife crime has been one of the most topical issues across the UK in the past year, particularly in London, but despite this - it has not been as prolific in Richmond.

However, this has not deterred officers from ensuring the issue would not escalate.

PC Scott-Jones said: “Zombie knifes were being sold locally but we have managed to find the manufacturers.

"Zombie knives are now banned but we conduct visits and checks on any retailers on the wards who sell knives to ensure they’re enforcing age laws.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

An example of a zombie knife found elsewhere in London

"The Border Force & post office also regularly notify police of purchases of illegal knives and the destination address which we will then follow up on."

But how exactly do the different police teams work?

"We have one sergeant for four neighbourhood teams with two dedicated ward officers and a Police community Support officer on every team," PC Scott-Jones added.

"Safer neighbourhood officers do not provide the 24 hour coverage that our response team colleague’s do, instead working set shifts.

"However we work on problem solving, crime prevention, anti-social behaviour neighbour disputes and more.

"Each ward has dozens of neighbourhood watches set up so that crime trends, stats and crime prevention advice can be sent out to residents."

Both neighbourhood teams strongly believe in the mantra that ‘prevention is better than cure,’ which is why they encourage young adults to think before committing serious offences.

PC Cheadle chipped in: “We like to talk to teenagers and young adults.

“We say things like ‘don’t carry knives for friends.’

“There is a big issue with kids and drugs which can lead to teenagers going off the rails.

“We are also aware that university towns are big places for drug money which is why we have very good school teams who work with children in order to educate them about the dangers of carrying a knife as well as the dangers of drug abuse.

“The Schools Teams are there to help and reach out to all children, not just those who might come to police attention on a more regular basis.

“We have also been issuing ‘closure orders’ which are helping to solve drug abuse in the area.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Police recently issued a closure order on a suspected drug den in neighbouring Kew

“There has been a rise in drug abuse particularly with heroin and we are aware that this also involves county lines which is why we are educating parents and helping them to be more aware of any changes in their children.”

According to the officers – property theft increases during the winter months because it gets darker at earlier times which means criminals are most likely to be active.

To help reduce rates in property theft – the Met Police launched a free website where residents can register electronic devices.

PC Cheadle said: “It takes less than 20 seconds to steal a bike and we think it’s great that residents are on the lookout.

“For example, bikes were being stolen near Teddington Swimming Pool.

“We spoke to local councils councils who put pressure on the pools to install CCTV around the area.

"We also installed signage warning residents and arranged for some bike marking to take place.

“When it comes to catalytic converters – criminals are after the rare metals, so we have designed a leaflet which helps residents to be more aware on how to protect their vehicles.”

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Catalytic converter thefts have been on the rise lately

PC Richards added: “We want everyone to register their valuables like laptops, mobile phones or anything with a reference number as we have been trained to use and can help people to get their stolen goods back.”

When it comes tackling the mental health crisis the Met Police now have ‘mental health powers’ whereby they work with councils, housing associations, voluntary, public and private sectors to assist families who are experiencing hardship.

Every month there is a Community Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (CMARAC) which is made up of mental health representatives from social services, councils, Met Police and joint enterprises to help work out who is committing crime and what departments can deal with it.

PC Cheadle added: “The mental health powers help people who may need it.

“Recently some child welfare concerns were raised during the monthly CMARAC and we discovered that there was a single parent who was struggling.

"We arranged a meeting with the housing association and social services.

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"We’ve managed to arrange for some doors inside to be repaired and gifts from the Met Christmas appeal were arranged for the children too.

"We’re also hoping to arrange for more furniture and social services are assisting.

PC Scott-Jones said: “At first the parent was scared that social services would get involved but we reassured them helping is actually a big part of our community work.

“Each Borough also has a mental health liaison officer and night response teams work with mental health nurses.

“We want to help communities to find long-term solutions for mental health through problem solving.

"We are more aware about mental health now, more than ever and we are doing a lot of work through our partnership meetings as to how we can best help people in need. ”

Both officers believe that crime in Richmond has reduced due to the Borough’s strong police presence.

They also believe that some crimes are incorrectly classified – some people report crime because they need to obtain a Crime Reference Number.

Neighbourhood Policing Teams build trust in order to gain an understanding of that community and its needs.

Met Police teams across Richmond hold weekly sessions in public spaces so that residents can have an informal conversation with officers and discuss issues that maybe affecting them.

PC Scott-Jones said: “Anything can be discussed at our weekly meetings - we want people to come and speak about an incident or to get advice.

“The aim is to try break down the barriers.

“Having an informal chat and a coffee makes it somewhat easier to assure the public.

“The chats are also helpful because certain perceptions of what residents may assume to be a crime may not be and vice-versa.”

In order to police efficiently – Met Officers rely on information from the public which can help them to reduce crime in the area.

PC Cheadle explained: “Intelligence is important and reporting it helps.

“We rely on statements and evidence.

“People are getting more and more smart when it comes to domestic violence – they let us know what is happening.

“The best thing about both Hampton Wick and Teddington is that we get to help residents because we are a part of the community, we have more time to help people.”

When asked about other factors that affect policing in the area PC Cheadle said: “Met Police in Richmond have a big push for drink driving offences.

“We have several teams in the Borough who are equipped with police buses and intelligence to help them to target pubs.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

“Party-goers should not drink and then drive to work the following day as alcohol levels could still be in their system.

“Residents should check-in with each other and always be aware of their surroundings when travelling into town.

“Most importantly don’t forget to register your electronic goods with .”

For more information on CMARAC visit: