I have been touched by the good wishes so many constituents have sent me since the death of my colleague Sir David Amess last Friday, and I thank you for your kind concern. I delayed sending out my regular newsletter last Friday out of respect for Sir David. However, crime was to be the main theme last week, so the information I intended to include is more relevant than ever.
Crime has been a running theme at my coffee mornings over the past two weeks, raised by residents across the constituency. Following appalling incidents in Richmond Park itself, and a further theft nearby on Tuesday, I wrote to Sophie Linden, the Deputy Mayor of London for Policing and Crime to urge that she looks at the issue and explores ways of ensuring that my constituents can feel safe and protected across the constituency. To read the letter in full, click here.
The Royal Parks Police sergeant for Richmond Park has explained that Officers are currently investigating the robberies inside the park and providing extra patrols in the park to offer reassurance to the public. I urged them to think far more expansively about what kind of measures can be put in place to ensure that visitors can be confident of having a safe and enjoyable stay in the Park, including more potential support for the Parks Police from the Metropolitan Police.
I went out on patrol with the Met Police's Safer Neighbourhood Team for Tudor last Monday, looking at the areas where residents have expressed concerns to me, and where the police feel they have work to do. I was assured that more patrols in Canbury Gardens are being put in place to address antisocial behaviour there in the evenings.
I have made representation last week to the Government and to the Met Police about officer numbers in my constituency. One of the reasons we have a low police presence in this area is that our officers are re-deployed elsewhere when protests or other large events take place, on the mistaken belief that this area is safe and doesn't need a police presence.
The Prime Minister has promised to bring in 20,000 extra police officers, of which 6,000 are meant to be coming to London. I am determined to make sure that we get our fair share here in Southwest London.
Another area of concern for my constituents is catalytic converter theft. Catalytic converters are devices fitted to vehicle exhausts to reduce the amount of dangerous gases emitted. They are often targeted by thieves as they contain valuable metals and can be removed easily and resold. Hybrid vehicles are most commonly targeted, as their metals are more valuable, but any vehicle can be at risk of catalytic converter theft. To keep your catalytic converter safe, you can ask your car dealer for advice on locks or guards that are approved by the vehicle manufacturer.
I also want to remind my constituents who are over 50 and eligible for Covid-19 booster shots that the NHS does not charge for the vaccinations. If you receive a letter or phone call asking you to pay for your vaccination please do report that to the police, as you are being targeted by a fraudster.
On a London level, I am happy to report that Transport for London (TfL) has announced that the Night Tube will be returning. The Central and Victoria lines will run throughout the night on Fridays and Saturdays from Saturday 27 November, making journey times shorter and offering safer routes home, especially for women. Hopefully other lines will follow soon.
Lastly, I want to urge all of my constituents to report all criminal or antisocial behaviour they see to the police, every single time. Please use 999 if there is an immediate risk to someone's safety, or call 101 if the situation is less urgent. You can also report antisocial behaviour online here and you can report non-emergency crimes like bicycle theft here.
I understand that it can be discouraging to report crime and not see action taken in response. But it is of vital importance that the police have an accurate record of crime and antisocial behaviour across the area if we are to be allocated the resources necessary to tackle it. So please report all criminal and anti-social behaviour through the proper channels (not via social media!)
ST GEORGE'S NEW MENTAL HEALTH SITE VISIT
Last Monday I visited the mental health facilities at South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust with my colleague Munira Wilson, the Member of Parliament for Twickenham, to tour their existing services and learn more about the exciting new facilities at Springfield University Hospital.
It was a pleasure to meet with the Clinical Service Lead for the SWLSTG Perinatal Mental Health Services to discuss the work the service is doing to support the mental health of new families in Richmond and Kingston. It was great to hear about current initiatives such as the culture session workshops in which staff participate, and plans to provide more support for dads. Raising awareness of perinatal mental health problems and improving care and services for those impacted by them is a key priority for me.
I also enjoyed touring the construction site for what will be the new Bluebell ward for deaf adults with mental illness and mental health problems. The new facilities will provide superb conditions in which to deliver effective mental health care that matches the deaf community’s complex language profile and cultural identity and will rapidly improve the lives of patients.
I was pleased to host coffee mornings for my Mortlake, East Sheen and Barnes constituents last week. Residents raised many important issues with me, around traffic, buses, safety, climate change, business, electric vehicles and the forthcoming ULEZ expansion. For residents in all three areas the continuing closure of Hammersmith bridge to buses and cars is a significant concern. I will be taking your issues to the appropriate authorities and reporting back to constituents on my actions.
I would like to thank Jay and Lizzy at the Hare and Hounds in East Sheen and Lauren and Sarah at The Bridge in Barnes for their community spirit in hosting these events, and for their cheerful and warm hospitality to us. Please do visit them if you are in the area!