Your Member of Parliament for Harrow East

Andrew Percy MP

Debate on General Matters

Bob used a debate on general matters to talk about three issues: the general position of policing and criminal activity in London; the excellent work being done by Harrow Police; and the scandalous proposal to close the custody suite in Harrow.

On the general position in London, some 300,000 people were arrested last year for alleged crimes, of whom 100,000 were foreign nationals. Of the 100,000 foreign nationals arrested, 86,000 were convicted of a criminal offence. Bob welcomes tourists who come to this country on holiday, spend their money here and enjoy our wonderful heritage. He also welcomes those who come here as students and who learn about this country and go back to their own countries enriched by their experience of the United Kingdom. Finally, Bob welcomes those who come here to work and pay their taxes  and the families that choose to live here and integrate into society, becoming part of our great British society overall. However, those who come as guests and then commit criminal offences, and who are responsible for a third of London’s crime, are a danger to everyone else who comes here to make this country their home.

That is a key concern. The worst aspect is that of those 86,000 people convicted of criminal offences, none were deported. Worse still, none were barred from returning to the UK even if they chose to leave of their own volition. That, of course, creates community tensions and concerns for all the law-abiding people who have come here either to live here or on a visit. Bob called for prompt and immediate Government action.

Bob recently had the pleasure and honour to attend a commendation service for 22 policemen and policewomen who were commended by the Harrow Borough Commander for courage and for work above and beyond the call of duty. These brave individuals do an excellent job in ensuring that Harrow is London’s second safest borough. They cannot be praised highly enough. It is right and proper to pay tribute to all those brave men and women who lay their lives on the line almost daily so that we can go about our business in a carefree manner, as we would all wish.

The third issue Bob dealt with is the scandalous proposal to close the custody suite in Harrow Police Station. Everyone knows that when people are arrested, they are often violent, they are sometimes intoxicated and they can give the police a very hard time. Such people need to be transported to a custody suite, and processed and looked after in the prison cells, if required, in the most expeditious manner possible. The last thing that is needed is to transport people arrested in Harrow to Wembley or even to Kilburn when they may be violent, intoxicated on drink or drugs and causing many problems for police officers.

Another key concern is that if this proposal were to go ahead, police officers would be dragged away from Harrow to go to Wembley, Kilburn or beyond to process these individuals, and criminal investigation department officers would have to attend at one of those police stations to interview them and make sure that they were safe and secure overnight, if necessary. It is unacceptable to drag away police officers who should be patrolling Harrow streets and unnecessarily tying them up in work that they should not need to do. Equally, there is a concern that people who have been arrested and put in police cells need to be inspected by police inspectors on a regular basis to make sure that they are safe and secure, and thus in a position to be interviewed. What is being proposed suggests that there will be an attempt to move the CID officers from Harrow to Wembley or Kilburn in order to facilitate all this investigation work and the necessary work of policing.

Bob therefore asked the responsible Ministers to step in and make sure that this proposal bites the dust very quickly so that we do not see a drag-down of police officers and a drag on police time and resources in Harrow, and so that we do not cease to be London’s second safest borough.

Bob asked for a Minister to respond to him in writing, but also asked that the Deputy Leader of the House will take the issue on board as well, so that we can be given an answer.

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