SERGEANT Gordon Barlow is proud to leave behind one of the safest boroughs in London after the success of his pioneering work with young people.
The Met’s youth officer for Hammersmith and Fulham has stepped down after 36 years with the police service, which began at Harrow Road. He was posted to Fulham in 1985.
Sgt Barlow believes that the comparatively minor trouble on the borough’s streets during the London wide riots of August 2011 was only testament to the work he and and his team had put into the young community.
“No one in the Met has the same system in the way they engage kids with extra-curricular activities. It is so important to build relations with the local people so that they realise that we are part of the solution too,” said the 54-year-old.
“There was only a minority of trouble-makers in the area during the riots the other year which just went to show that we have one of the safest boroughs in the capital.
“We engage with the youngsters from primary school, so by the time they are in secondary school we all know each other and a better relationship with the police is possible.
“However, I am fearful about
all the cutbacks to the police: it is
so important police continue to engage with the young people of the area otherwise that bond will be lost.”
Barlow became the borough’s police youth officer in 1999. He coached the former St Matthew's Church football team in Townmead Road along with the Rev Gary Piper every Saturday and soon invited fellow police officers to join the team. They won the Macibe Christian League title three times.
“We did this for more than nine years and the most important legacy from that is one of the lads
who played with us is now running
a similar scheme in Kensington
and Chelsea,” said Barlow.
Sgt Barlow had to deal with three major child murders in his time, including the brutal death of 16-year-old Kodjo Yenga in Hammersmith Grove in 2007.
Sgt Barlow marked the fifth anniversary of Yenga’s tragic death with a football game between the teenager’s friends and the police which he refereed as Kodjo’s parents were the guests of honour.
Sgt Barlow was made an MBE in 2004.