Dawn Butler and Cllr Tom Miller meet with TfL
Dawn Butler and Cllr Tom Miller meet with TfL

I am providing an update further to my meeting with Transport for London and the British Transport Police regarding anti-social behaviour at Dollis Hill and Willesden Green.

Thank you to everyone who contacted me ahead of the meeting to share your experiences. I can assure you that I reviewed every message received and put across concerns raised in the meeting. I appreciate that this is a long update however I wish to be as comprehensive as possible.

I must first stress however that if you experience or witness an incident on the tube please report it via text on 61016 to BTP. If it is an emergency, always call 999. If a non-emergency call 101.

I understand that in many cases CCTV footage is only stored for a total of 24-48 hours before it is deleted so early reporting is essential. Not only is this vital to catch any criminals as quickly as possible, it is also useful information to identify any trends that might be occurring.

I was surprised to hear from BTP that they have had very few reports of crime. Contacting BTP and the Met Police must be your first point of contact in every single case.

Sexual Assaults at Willesden Green

The first major issue I raised was the concern that so many people shared with me regarding sexual assaults. I understand that in response to an increase in unwanted sexual behaviour on the entire transport network TfL and BTP have launched Project Guardian.

Project Guardian is a joint initiative between TfL, BTP and the Met that works to eradicate unwanted sexual behaviour on the tube and to encourage people to come forward and report their experience. This initiative is active locally in Brent with multiple policing agencies working to target offenders.

The involvement of Project Guardian in Brent led to an escalation in investigative police activity at Willesden Green across multiple policing units. This increase in resources, including additional uniformed and plain-clothes patrols, led to four people being arrested. There have been no further reports of sexual assaults at this station since the beginning of December 2018.

Ahead of my meeting I was also made aware of a more recent assault that occurred at this station. I am not able to go into specifics however I can reassure everyone that the Director of Policing agreed to investigate the incident and their response to it. Again, I must stress in all cases:

If you experience or witness an incident on the tube please report it via text on 61016 to BTP.

If it is an emergency, always call 999. If it is a non-emergency and outside a station call 101.

Footage is often only stored for 24-48 hours before it is deleted so early reporting is essential.

Anti-Social Behaviour at Dollis Hill Station

In addition to the assaults at Willesden Green, I raised with the Director of Policing the volume of correspondence I have received that relates to criminality at Dollis Hill station.

This includes the harassment of women leaving the station, drug-dealing and theft. The information everyone provided to me was vital as the Director of Policing outlined that they had not been aware of an issue here at the station until I had raised the many incidents with them.

As a majority of incidents reported however occurred just outside the station, BTP does not have direct jurisdiction. They are however now working with the Met Police and the local Safer Neighbourhood Team who have reported concerns as to gang and drug activity in the area.

I will be following-up on this point with the new Tri-Borough Commander, Superintendant Sara Leach, at our upcoming meeting. I am reassured that BTP and the Met Police have shared CCTV and work closely together.

Reporting of Crimes

Given that BTP and TfL were unaware of the very serious criminality taking place within the vicinity of Dollis Hill station I must stress how essential it is that crime is reported.

I queried with the Director of Policing what it is that people should do if they become the victim of crime or witness an incident either on the underground itself or at a tube station.

I understand that a major part of Project Guardian has been to encourage the reporting of incidents and to make it easier to do so. A new text reporting system has been introduced so if you witness or experience an incident on the transport network you can report it easily by sending a text to 61016.

If you have been the victim of crime, after sending a text message, the first contact centre will call you to establish if you wish to take the matter forward. It is also helpful for the public to text in any intelligence that they have as, I am assured, BTP do act upon this. The reporting of data is vital as this informs strategies and deployment of policing resources on the network and at stations. To tackle the problem, it is imperative that members of the public speak up and come forward.

CCTV

I queried with the Director of Policing the CCTV at Dollis Hill station and the placement of cameras.

I specifically sought information as to whether units were deployed in the underpass at Dollis Hill linking the Burnley Road and Chapter Road entrances/exits. CCTV here could be crucial as individuals are using the underpass as a rat-run to conduct criminal and anti-social behaviour.

The Director of Policing was unaware of the specific placement of cameras however agreed to investigate this further and come back to me with more information. As Brent Council has also recently refurbished its CCTV grid with easily re-deployable units the potential was discussed to augment the TfL CCTV grid with additional units. We also discussed the potential for integrating TfL coverage into the Brent Council network to improve overall effectiveness and monitoring.

One issue of concern I identified in the meeting was the variability in the storage time of TfL’s CCTV footage. In some cases, I understand that footage is only stored for a total of 24-48 hours before it is deleted. This is also the same for oyster card data which can be used to identify individuals.

I raised my concern that this creates problems for people reporting incidents if the evidence is only available for a very limited period. This means that when it comes to reporting a crime it is of vital importance that it is done as soon as possible for the preservation of CCTV footage.

Lighting

I raised my concerns as to the poor-quality lighting at Dollis Hill station. I am aware that the Crime Reduction & Operational Security Unit at TfL had prior to our meeting carried out a site visit at Dollis Hill station. The feedback from the visit had been that the current lighting was adequate. I therefore queried the time of the visit with the Director of Policing who informed me it had taken place late afternoon. I requested that they visit Dollis Hill again at night.

Information Posters

I highlighted concerns previously raised by the Safer Neighbourhood Board that information posters be displayed advising travellers to be cautious. The Director of Policing agreed to look at the placement of information posters advising people as to how they can report crime.

Public Meeting

I requested that TfL and BTP make themselves available to attend an upcoming community meeting. This would be for residents to talk directly to those responsible as to their concerns. The Director of Policing agreed to a meeting and we are in the process of identifying a date.

I hope that the above information is reassuring to you.

I will continue to keep everyone updated as to my ongoing work and any progress on this issue via my website. I will be continuing to work alongside the Metropolitan Police and other agencies to help create a safer, greater Brent. You can read more about my latest work online at https://www.dawnbutler.org.uk/police/.

Please do not hesitate to get contact my office if you require help with this or any other matter.

And please remember:

If you experience or witness an incident on the tube please report it via text on 61016 to BTP.

If it is an emergency, always call 999. If it is a non-emergency and outside a station call 101.

Footage is only stored for a total of 24-48 hours before it is deleted so please report early! 

Yours sincerely,

Dawn Butler MP

Member of Parliament for Brent Central

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