West London Borough Commander talks of low morale in Met Police

Image above: Libray image of police

Wayne Couzens case “rotted morale across the force”

The Metropolitan Police Borough Commander for West London, Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson, spoke about the low morale in the Met currently when he addressed local residents at the public meeting in Chiswick organised by Cllr Ranjit Gill on Tuesday 4 October. The Chief Superintendent is responsible for the tri-borough area of Hillingdon, Ealing and Hounslow.

He admitted to low morale in the force following the tragedy of Sarah Everard’s murder by Met officer Wayne Couzens. It had “rotted morale across the force” he said, and there was much work to do to bring back the public’s trust in the force.

Couzens was sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole life order on 30 September 2021, having pleaded guilty to Sarah’s kidnapping and rape and admitted responsibility for her death.

The police were widely criticised for their handling of the women’s vigil on Clapham Common following Sarah Everard’s kidnap while she was walking home across the common. The vigil was peaceful but they had banned it, citing Covid regulations, and arrested women taking part.

READ ALSO: Chiswick joins in doorstep vigil for Sarah Everard

It then emerged that fellow officers in Wayne Couzens’ circle had shared grossly offensive texts. Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick resigned in February after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he had lost ‘confidence’ in her.

READ ALSO: Met Police officers guilty of sending grossly offensive messages

Met constables William Neville, Jonathon Cobban and former PC Joel Borders were members of a group chat called “Bottle and Stoppers” along with Couzens. Neville was cleared of sending grossly offensive messages but his two colleagues were convicted of the crime following a trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in July.

Borders and Cobban swapped what they claimed was “banter” about tasering children and people with disabilities and referred to LB Hounslow as a “Somali s***hole” in comments made in the group in 2019. In an exchange on 5 April that year, Borders wrote: “I can’t wait to get on guns so I can shoot some c*** in the face!”


Image above: Chief Constable Sean Wilson, speaking on Sky TV about the murder of Thomas O’Halloran, the 87 year old man fatally stabbed in his mobility scooter in Greenford in August

Recruiting more officers essential to match the numbers leaving

Last year the level of policing in London dropped to 30,000 officers for the first time in 15 years. City Hall reported London had 21,000 police officers fewer than it did in 2010 and announced a £30million investment in policing to bring the numbers back up.

Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson said he aimed to put ‘neighbourhood’ back into policing. They wanted to see more police officers in neighbourhoods. After natural wastage they must do more recruiting, he said, to match the number of officers leaving.

Addressing the issue of street crime, which residents raised at two previous public meetings, he said they Met had a good Gangs unit. Chiswick has been identified as a “transit” area for drugs. Their priorities were to prevent and tackle violence and strengthen trust and confidence.

READ ALSO: Stripping victims ‘new element’ to street robberies

The issues raised by residents at this meeting were to do with women not feeling safe on the street and ‘opportunity’ crimes. A Grove Park resident described young boys on bikes smashing windows on cars and said they would like to see some patrolling in the area to deter these boys. There was a general feeling expressed that there is not enough police patrolling or visibility in Chiswick.

There was an animated discussion about traffic – particularly about cyclists running lights and speeding. The traffic queues in Sutton Court Road because of the A4 roadworks was raised. Driving has become particularly dangerous there as people are frustrated, said a member of the public.

The Police encouraged residents to submit dash cam footage showing dangerous driving if they witnessed it but during the event the Met police submission site was tested and it did not work. Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson took that back, that Police needed to address the site, but the main take-away was that people wanted more police on the street.

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