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‘Hard border’ between Brent and Camden in Kilburn will be softened, pledges top police officer

PUBLISHED: 12:16 14 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:34 17 September 2018

Inspector Richard Bern, Borough Commander Dr Iain Raphael, and Serg Mark Townsend (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)

Inspector Richard Bern, Borough Commander Dr Iain Raphael, and Serg Mark Townsend (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)

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Border issues and criminal activity that stems from them were the top complaint at a community crime meeting in Kilburn. More than 60 people crowded into the Kingsgate Resource Centre in Palmerston Road for a “community conversation” with Camden police officers and councillors.

Neighbours at a Community Conversation crime workshop in Kilburn (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)Neighbours at a Community Conversation crime workshop in Kilburn (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)

Sitting at tables each assigned a police officer, neighbours talked about the problems they face, the impact these have on their environment, and solutions they could think of.

Low lighting, gangs, the exploitation of young children, broken shop windows and graffiti were some of many issues affecting people living in or near Kilburn High Road.

“In border areas it’s quite easy to feel forgotten,” said Agnes, who was on a table with Fortune Green councillor Flick Rea. “It’s hard to know who to report the issues to. You phone Camden they say it’s the Brent side – phone Brent, and they say it’s the Camden side.”

Sophie added: “It started with low lighting, graffiti started appearing, people started reporting drug dealing.”

Inspector Richard Bern, Cllr Flick Rea and community neighbours  (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)Inspector Richard Bern, Cllr Flick Rea and community neighbours (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)

The group talked about gangs who groom youngsters to sell drugs. “I know who they are, you know who they are, why is nothing being done?” asked another.

Officers have pledged to talk to Brent Council, which is responsible for one side of the road.

Insp Richard Berns looks after the 18 wards in Camden. He said: “We have heard that residents don’t know which team to turn to, Brent or Camden. That there is not enough joint working. In truth there can never be enough but there can certainly be more.

“A hard border just doesn’t work in Kilburn. We need a soft border and a team that knows no boundaries. I will start negotiations with Brent soon, no deal is not an option.”

Inspector Richard Bern, Borough Commander Dr Iain Raphael, and Serg Mark Townsend (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)Inspector Richard Bern, Borough Commander Dr Iain Raphael, and Serg Mark Townsend (Picture: Nathalie Raffray)

Camden and Islington Borough Commander Dr Iain Raphael said: “This is the first [meeting like this] I’ve been involved in. I’m really impressed and genuinely taken up with the conversations. If you’ve got that much energy where everyone is wanting to make things better, then I believe you can achieve things. In its purest terms it’s partnership.”

Cllr Nadia Shah, cabinet member for safer communities, who initiated the “conversations” last year, said: “We want to keep residents at the heart of our decision making and look at ways they can all benefit. Government cuts and austerity affects people’s lives. We are trying to develop action plans from them and go back and continue the conversations with the community.”

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