Residents praise private security force contracted by council for ‘can-do’ attitude

Camden Town Hall. Photograph: Camden Council

A private security company received glowing praise from a Camden residents’ committee for their “positive impact” in reducing and disrupting serious crime this week.

Croma Vigilant’s contract to provide Camden Council’s responsive security patrol (RSP) kicked off in January of this year, in a rebrand of the council’s housing patrol.

Operating seven days a week from 4pm to 3am, the RSP responds to council tenants and leaseholders reports of antisocial behaviour, harassment, drug users and dealers, residential noise nuisance, rough sleepers and youth disorder.

Tenants’ representatives at an 11 September meeting of the Kentish Town district management committee passed an emergency motion making clear to the council their strong attachment to a service which they feel supports “overworked police.”

The motion reads: “We would strenuously oppose any plan we consider would reduce the effectiveness and integrity of the RSP service.

“The dedication of the team and ‘can do’ attitude have been of particular note. The public are expressing trust in the service hitherto absent.

“The model now developed for the RSP team under its inspiring leadership is a flagship service working with and for the people who fund it, providing positive impacts rippling out across the whole borough.

“The introduction of much needed powers of arrest for suitably trained personnel will enhance the service enormously, and relieve under-resourced neighbourhood and emergency police capacity.

“Any dilution of effectiveness, lines of responsibility and accountability without full community consultation and approval will be resisted by all and every means possible.”

Members of the committee went on to call on the council to look at ways to make the bodycam-wearing patrol units available on a 24-hour basis.

Camden residents remain concerned about the impact of violent crime and antisocial behaviour in the borough, particularly in relation to a drop in police numbers.

Ajay Kumble, co-chair of the Kilburn neighbourhood forum, said: “The pressure on the police is immense. Crime can only go up if they continue to reduce numbers.

“In Kilburn ward, there are two officers and one police community support officer covering twenty streets and an incredibly dense population.”

According to figures highlighted by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in June, there were 3.3 officers per 1,000 Londoners in 2016/17, down from 4.1 officers in 2010.

Cllr Nadia Shah (Lab, Regent’s Park), cabinet member for safer communities, speaking to the Citizen at a ‘community conversation’ on antisocial behaviour for the Kilburn area, said: “The responsive security patrol replaced the housing patrol, and they have been in operation for a few months now.

“We have been getting good feedback from residents on the service, and it seems to be making a tangible difference.

“People are always asking for a visible presence, and that is what deters crime.

“We do not have any plans for stopping the security service. If we had more money, I am sure we would increase it.”

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