The new boss of Enfield and Haringey’s police team speaks to Christina Davis
The newly-appointed head of Enfield and Haringey police is Detective Chief Superintendent Treena Fleming, who took over as commander of the Metropolitan Police’s Basic Command Unit (BCU) for the two boroughs this summer.
I began my interview with Det Chief Supt Fleming by asking about one of the most pressing issues facing police in London today and one which has certainly affected Enfield borough – knife crime.
“A knife used in the wrong place is as dangerous as a firearm,” she tells me, noting that intelligence-led stop-and-search, carried out ethically, has had a lot of success in removing ‘zombie’ knives and other similar weapons. Likewise, she is full of praise for the work of the Violent Crime Taskforce, which is a roving police unit whose help she often requests.
In addition, she points to the work schools officers do to inform children of the dangers, while neighbourhood officers lead weapon sweeps in known hotspots. Police cadets also do regular test purchase operations, in conjunction with Enfield Council, to target shopkeepers who sell to underage children. The ease with which youngsters can buy knives online is still a problem, however.
How should those found carrying knives be dealt with? “If a 25-year old gets caught with a knife for the second or third time or someone is carrying out knife-enabled robberies, then absolutely the courts must come down hard, but if it’s a 16-year old worried about their own personal safety, we need to enforce the law but we also need to look at why they are not telling the police or a teacher about their fears. We need to adopt a trauma-informed approach as a longer-term strategy.”
As the recent merger of Enfield’s police team with Haringey is nearing the end of its first full year of operation, I asked Det Chief Supt Fleming if she was happy with the way it was going so far. “It’s still a work in progress but I have a very strong senior team,” she says. “We were given a blueprint and we can tweak it slightly whenever we find it could work better.”
The operations room which was being overseen by a sergeant at the start of the merger will soon be led by an inspector “to release more sergeants back to the teams and facilitate that early decision making”.
A ‘safeguarding car’ is another crucial development to arise from the merger. It ensures that when an emergency response team is deployed to any kind of complex safeguarding incident, a police car with experienced officers goes with it.
“Once response officers have made arrests and protected the victims they then hand straight over to the CID [criminal investigation department] leaving the response team to go to their next call.”
One of the big issues in Enfield at the moment is frequent speeding on the A10; the police recently launched ‘Vision Zero’ to tackle this. Det Chief Supt Fleming says getting into chases with speeding drivers is not the answer and that working with partners such as Enfield Council is instead helping to dissuade drivers from congregating at retail parks at weekends.
“Our colleagues in road traffic also continue to carry out enforcement activity. [In one day] this resulted in 96 speeding offences being detected, with the highest recorded speed being 72mph in a 40mph zone. We will continue to work towards a permanent and sustainable solution with partners to keep local residents safe.”
Finally, I ask about the expected increase in police officer numbers. Det Chief Supt Fleming says the Met Police commissioner and her team will decide where extra officers are deployed. “It’s about visibility,” she says. “Knowing where the hotspots are and making sure our officers are out there patrolling.”