On Monday evening (5th March) Mike Gapes MP (Ilford South) hosted a well-attended public meeting in Ilford Town Hall to discuss the recent rise in burglaries in Ilford and across Redbridge.
Speaking to the residents in attendance were Detective Superintendent Neil Matthews (Operation Mexico Lead), Cllr Jas Athwal (Leader of Redbridge Council), Mark Benbow (Community Safety Lead for Redbridge Council) and Mike Gapes MP (Ilford South) in the chair.
Shockingly, between November last year and January 2018, Redbridge residents saw a 52% increase in burglaries. This led to the police launching Operation Mexico, a specialist initiative to tackle the organised groups thought to be behind the rise in burglaries in the borough.
Det Supt Matthews, who leads Operation Mexico, told the meeting that the specialist team consisting of sixteen officers had made 80 arrests since January for 131 offences.
Det Supt Matthews said: “I would like to reassure residents that the police in Redbridge have a dedicated policing team tackling burglary and robbery. To date we have achieved phenomenal results working closely with our partners in bringing offenders to justice.
There is more to do and it is important that members of the public continue to provide the police with information if they see or hear anything suspicious.
I also want to remind communities of the importance of fully securing your property at all times. Never leave your property insecure even for the shortest period. Many burglars are opportunists who will not hesitate to enter your property if you give them a chance.”
Cllr Jas Athwal spoke to the meeting about the steps Redbridge Council were taking to help tackle crime in the borough against a backdrop of £1bn worth of government cuts to the police which have reduced the number of police stations in Redbridge from five to one.
Cllr Jas Athwal said “Redbridge Labour are investing £1.5m in new high-tech CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras, creating a ‘ring of steel’ around the borough – improving safety and tackling crime.
We are committed to tackling crime and ensuring resident safety in the borough and are creating a £50,000 Community Safety Fund to support neighbourhood watch schemes and community groups.”
The meeting was hosted and chaired by Mike Gapes MP (Ilford South) after he had been contacted by a large number of constituents who had been burgled or were very concerned about the recent increase in burglaries.
The majority of time at the two-hour long meeting was given to residents to ask questions of the panel and speak about their own experiences, many shared their own stories of being burgled recently.
Mike Gapes MP concluded the meeting by thanking all those who had attended and said:
“This year, once again, the police will be facing a real terms cut in their funding, which will mean significant challenges.
It is positive to see however that the actions being taken by the police locally and by Redbridge Council are beginning to take effect.
I am grateful to all of my constituents and residents of Redbridge who attended this evening to express their concerns. I am also grateful to Det Supt Matthews, Cllr Jas Athwal and Mark Benbow for attending and for answering on all of the points raised.”