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Safer Spaces Award: London Borough of Waltham Forest with NSL and the Metropolitan Police

British Parking Awards 2023

Mark Moran
01 October 2023
Jane Sherry, Mehmet Hassan and Anthony Hall (LBWF) with Andrea Jones (Marston Holdings) and Jim Coultrous (Met Police)

 

Over the past 15 years the London Borough of Waltham Forest has developed a close-knit working relationship with NSL. This has moved beyond the traditional client-contractor relationship and formed a real sense of working in partnership towards the same goals.

In 2010 the council also began to work more closely with the Metropolitan Police, resulting in the creation of a formal partnership agreement.

The key objectives of the joint partnership were as follows:

  • to tackle anti-social behaviour, specifically linked to vehicles
  • to reassure residents
  • to remove dangerous or unlawful vehicles from our roads
  • to create a safer environment for all residents and visitors.

This trinity partnership between Waltham Forest, NSL and the Met has begun to focus more on supporting each other in tackling anti-social behaviour and vehicle crime in the borough, leading to a series of campaigns and initiatives. For example, the Community Matters joint operation resulted in a significant number of penalty charge notices (PCNs) being issued, vehicles being removed, mopeds being seized, and arrests being made.

Another initiative sought to improve the way that vehicles removed to the vehicle pound are dealt with, which has led to the identification of cloned vehicles, the return of stolen vehicles to their rightful owners and the recovery of vehicles linked to murder and other serious offence.

As part of the joint operations, the council shared officers and colleagues amongst NSL, Waltham Forest Environmental Services and the Metropolitan Police.

The joint operations take place once or twice a week, depending on season and resource availability. These operations have had very successful outcomes as they are utilising the combined resources and capabilities of the Metropolitan Police and NSL Parking Enforcement as well as NSL DVLA, which includes ANPR technology for untaxed vehicles.

These initiatives have had a positive impact on the safety of residents and visitors to Waltham Forest. The partners seek to respond to new challenges and social issues that have also arisen in recent years. For example, the Community Matters joint operation has helped to reduce the number of moped-related anti-social behaviour incidents in the borough. The rider’s behaviour and violence against women and girls (VAWG) was particularly disturbing. The joint operations with the Metropolitan Police have resulted in a clamp down on these behaviours as well as the seizing of several uninsured mopeds.

Embodying the sense of partnership, Mehmet Hassan, parking manager for Waltham Forest, is also a Special Inspector in the Met. “The impact of these joint operations are immediately apparent and NSL’s support has been essential with these multi-agency operations,” he says. “It has gone some way to ensure the safety of the local community and that any such matters are taken seriously. It has also shown the local community that civil enforcement officers do not just issue penalty charge notices but provide valuable support for other community issues as well.”

Waltham Forest, Met and NSL plan to expand the scope of the partnership to include other areas of crime, such as burglary, robbery, and other crimes that involve vehicles.

Another area that has increased in prevalence is around vehicle crime. And not just residents being victims of vehicle crime, but also vehicles being used to commit a crime. Vehicle crime is becoming a pandemic that will eventually be out of control without early intervention. In an attempt to counteract this, LBWF, NSL and the local Met team looked for ways to improve on how vehicle’s removed to our vehicle pound, that were deemed as of interest to the police, were more proactively and efficiently dealt with.

One of the key changes was for officers specially trained in vehicle crime and forensics to pay regular on-site visits to the vehicle pound. This allows these officers to use their expertise in identifying cloned vehicles etc. They, in turn, have been able to pass on some basic training to NSL colleagues working at the pound to enable them to more easily spot anomalies with vehicles.

The local Met team has also set up a dedicated email address which is closely monitored by trained officers resulting in a direct and immediate exchange of information between the NSL Pound and the Met team.

There is often a lack of communication between victims, insurance companies, the police and councils. This inevitably leads to frustration, additional costs and in the case of stolen vehicles, the vehicles are often never returned to their rightful owners despite being ‘found’. This initiative has drastically reduced these issues with benefits for all involved, including insurance companies and, of course, victims of crime.

The partnership has been beneficial for all involved. The police have been able to share their expertise in vehicle crime with NSL and Waltham Forest Council, which has helped to improve the way that these agencies deal with vehicle-related crime. NSL has been able to provide the police with access to their ANPR technology, which has helped to identify stolen vehicles. Waltham Forest Council has been able to use the partnership to improve communication with residents and victims of crime.

The partnership is a good example of how different agencies can work together to improve the safety of their communities. It has the potential to be replicated in other areas. Here are some of the key benefits of the joint partnership:

  • The partnership has helped to create a safer environment for residents and visitors to LBWF.
  • It has led to the identification of cloned vehicles, the return of stolen vehicles to their rightful owners, and the recovery of vehicles linked to murder and other serious offences.
  • It has improved communication between victims, insurance companies, the police, and LBWF.
  • It has saved time and money for all involved.

In addition to the benefits listed above, the partnership has also helped to build relationships between the different agencies involved. This has made it easier for them to work together on other initiatives in the future.

Anthony Hall, assistant director for highways and parking at the London Borough of Waltham Forest, said:  "The partnership has been very successful so far, and there are a number of potential future plans that could be implemented. We plan to expand the scope of the partnership to include other areas of crime. For example, the partnership could be used to tackle burglary, robbery, and other crimes that involve vehicles.

"Developing new initiatives to tackle anti-social behaviour and vehicle crime. For example, the partnership could develop a new program to educate young people about the dangers of anti-social behaviour and vehicle crime – this could tie into the work carried out by our sustainable transport team, in interacting with schools.

"We are also keen to expand and begin working with other councils and police forces to share best practices. The partnership could share its knowledge and experience with other councils and police forces, helping them to set up similar partnerships in their own areas. Another potential avenue we are looking at expanding is working more with local communities to raise awareness of vehicle-related crime and encourage people to report suspicious activity."

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