HAVING six robberies over the weekend is six too many, Chief Superintendant Simon Ovens told the Observer.
After just one week of taking up his new role as Borough Commander for Harrow Police, Chief Superintendant Ovens has set out a list of objectives he has planned for the borough.The 46-year-old, from South London, said: “I will definitely be trying to reduce burglary and robbery, those are the two crimes that I will do my best to cut down and stop.
“Burglary is one of the most insidious crimes, it is a huge intrusion into peoples’ lives and homes, and with robbery, although there is not a huge risk factor for robberies, the problem is that people live in fear of it.”
Chf Supt Ovens has replaced Borough Commander Dal Babu who retired from the Met Police in February after 30 years of service.
He also has a long history of service, having worked for the Met Police for 26 years after joining when he finished his A-level exams at 19 years old.
“I always wanted to be a policeman, ever since I was a little boy, I used to dress up in the uniform,” he said. “When I finished at school the police force took me straight away, it was great. I really enjoy it.”
Chf Supt Ovens arrived in the borough shortly after a report was released by The Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime (MOPAC) which proposes to reform the police service and cut costs by 20 per cent (£500million).
In Harrow, this would mean South Harrow would become the only station open 24/7, while four new contact points would be set up at Harrow Central Police Station, Pinner Police Station, and at the Safer Neighbourhood Team bases in Wealdstone and Stanmore.
The police information desk at Harrow Civic Centre would be closed.
When asked about the affect of the proposed cuts, Chf Supt Ovens wanted to assure our readers that ‘bobbies are more effective than buildings’.
He said: “Yes, it’s unfortunate that there are police cuts and we are losing buildings, but buildings cost a lot.
“I think it is better to have more officers out of the street preventing crime rather than having buildings. Bobbies win in the ‘buildings versus bobbies’ phrase we use in the Met.”
The contact points would be open three times a week, on Wednesday and Thursday from 7pm to 8pm, and on Saturday from 2pm to 3pm.
“The new contact points is an idea we are trying out, it is aimed at those who want to come in and speak to someone or see a police officer. Most people will call or use the internet nowadays, but we want to offer direct contact with people and our officers, we will see how it goes,” he said.
The father-of-two, who has two teenage children, one aged 15 and one 19 years old, has always lived in and around London but has never worked in north London before, but said he was excited about it.
He set out his objectives for the borough.
“I want to reduce crime as much as possible and lock up the baddies,” he said. “I want people to be given a fantastic service from the police – that’s why I would like to see this station (South Harrow Police Station) be rebuilt and organised better. It’s not the nicest of places to come into and we need a decent reception so that people can feel that they can drop in.
“Another thing I am keen to get going is the increase of police officers in the borough.
“Over the next three years we will recruit 50 police officers. Currently we have 325 working in the borough, that’s not including PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers) and hopefully we will soon have 385.
“This will mean that we can put more officers on the streets, making the police more visible and locking up the baddies.”
Chf Supt said he plans to continue the work of his predecessor in working with the volunteer group Mother’s Against Gangs (MAGs) and is looking forward to meeting the religious leaders in the area.
“I know that Harrow is the most diverse religious borough in London, so I am really looking forward to visiting them and working with everyone to make Harrow a safer place and get rid of the fear of crime. I have worked as a police officer in Lambeth, which was very multicultural, and Westminster and Hounslow. I have always enjoyed doing borough work.”
One of Chf Supt Ovens’ biggest challenges previously in the force was policing the Royal Wedding for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, he said.
On that momentous day on April 29, 2011, he was in charge of policing the whole of Westminster Abbey.
He said: “It was a huge challenge, there were so many heirs to the thrones and millions of people watching – it felt like I had the world on my shoulders. But it all went well and there was a huge sense of satisfaction, it was an extraordinary event to have worked at.”
Although it is unlikely he will face a similar challenge in Harrow, Chf Supt Ovens said he is thrilled to be in his new role.
“I am really pleased to be here. My natural habitat is policing boroughs.
“I want to combat crime and give direction to my police officers to offer a good service to the community,” he said.