Image above: Barnes passageway; photograph Anna Kunst
Police say there have been a number of arrests resulting in charges
There have been a number of robberies in Barnes passageway, which leads from near Chiswick Station on Burlington Lane to Barnes Bridge.
Following a spate of robberies in July three people have either been charged or their case is with the Crown Prosecution Service. There have been other robberies there as recently as a few weeks ago. Police have charged two more suspects with a further nine robberies and they are looking for two other suspects captured on CCTV.
Sergeant Jim Cope
There is “proactive work going on in the background to reduce crime in Chiswick and that though not always ‘visible’ officers are working hard to investigate offences and bring offenders to justice” says Sergeant Jim Cope, who runs Chiswick’s Safer Neighbourhood team.
“The group of individuals who were responsible for these [later] robberies were captured on nearby CCTV however were not known to police. Police tracked their routes before and after the robbery and knew that they were not from the local area.
“From these in-depth CCTV trawls we managed to get facials which we otherwise would not have got as they were heavily masked near the offence location. We put this out to colleagues in all policing areas and no one knew who they were.
“A proactive covert patrol was established under Operation Asil, an operation set up specifically to target robberies in the area.”
Plain clothes officers were then able to make two arrests and charge the suspects with nine robberies. They are still looking for the other two people in the CCTV footage.
“This is clear message to the offenders that this will not be tolerated” says Jim. “Please be assured that our linked series team, based out of Acton, are working hard in order to reduce crime in the area, specifically robberies and aggravated burglaries.
Image above: (L to R) PC Sam Allo; Cllr jack Emsley; Matt Duncan, Safer Communities Coordinator at Hounslow Council
Residents from Staveley Rd Gardens told the Police and Council are considering ways of making the passageway safer longterm
Since the capture of the individuals responsible for the recent spate of robberies, there has been a drastic reduction in robberies occurring along this passageway, but residents at a meeting at Chiswick Cricket Club on Friday night organised by Cllr Jack Emsley were not convinced this reprieve was not just a temporary fix. They want both the Police and Hounslow Council to do more to make the passageway safer.
The meeting came about after Alex Oliviera, a teenager who had been robbed in the passageway, spoke out at last month’s Town Hall meeting on crime in Chiswick. His mother Ania spoke to Cllr Emsley after the meeting and requested an update on what was being done to make the passage safer.
Ania and about 30 other residents of Staveley Gardens met PC Sam Allo and Matt Duncan, Safer Communities Coordinator at Hounslow Council. Jane Mills, Deputy Head of Chiswick School, whose students have been targeted, was at the meeting, as were representatives of Chiswick Hockey Club who use the passageway to get to their ground in Dukes Meadows.
The Police said they had given several recommendations to LB Hounslow to improve safety along the passage, including trimming the hedge, reducing access to the passageway via gates along the route and introducing CCTV. They have also suggested a designated enforcement officer, either from the Police or the Council to patrol the alleyway after school has finished.
Matt Duncan reported to the meeting that Hounslow Highways could not cut overgrown shrubbery from the railway as it belonged to Network Rail, but said they had requested Network Rail to do it.
There are currently seven ‘permeable routes’ out of the passageway (gates, alleys etc). Reducing these to one designated route, clearly signposted, is under consideration, as is CCTV. Matt Duncan confirmed he had commissioned a ‘full audit’ of the passageway to assess whether CCTV would be effective and where it could be deployed
PC Sam Allo told the meeting the Safer Neighbourhoods Police Team had also requested a ‘Nomad camera’ to be placed down the passage (a rapid deployment CCTV camera). He also said Police had stepped up patrols along the passageway.
Matt Duncan explained that “LBH Enforcement Team do not cover non housing estate footpaths. Highways Enforcement Officers have only authority to enforce against Fly Tipping on the Highway.”
We reported in August that Leader of Hounslow Council Cllr Shantanu Rajawat was “open to discussion” about a borough-wide enforcement team to help protect shopkeepers and the public from theft and antisocial behaviour, following our piece about the Local Enforcement Team run by Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
Cllr Emsley has told The Chiswick Calendar he is intending to keep tabs on developments and follow up the actions the Council and the Police have promised to take.
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar