Merton Council, the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade have been working around the clock this week to keep residents safe.
As in many parts of London and other English cities, the Tandem Centre and Priory Retail Park in Colliers Wood suffered looting and arson attacks earlier this week. Wimbledon was the scene of relatively minor disturbances.
Central to the speed and efficacy of the police response were council employees in Merton’s transport team. Drivers were drafted in to transport police officers around the borough to wherever they needed to be at a second’s notice. The council contributed five of its minibuses to help with police operations and supplied extra CCTV coverage.
Since Monday, there have been no serious incidents in Merton. Where groups of people obviously intent on causing trouble have gathered, the police have moved quickly to disperse them.
The Metropolitan Police is publishing photographs of the criminals caught looting and committing public disorder on http://www.flickr.com/photos/metropolitanpolice/ Anyone with information about those involved in the recent violence can help bring them to justice by calling Crime Stoppers anonymously on 0800555111: http://www.crimestoppers/uk.org
Residents who hear any information or who hear rumours about possible future disturbances should email firstname.lastname@example.org This is where community intelligence is collated and fed through to the local police.
Merton Council Leader Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “I want to thank the many brave officers in the emergency services and our own council officers who have provided the police with transport. We have also seen council employees involved in the clean-up operations following the outbreaks of violence. In addition to those on the front line, I know there are council staff who have been working tirelessly to ensure that, if necessary, we were able to look after the more vulnerable in our community.
“I want to reassure residents that we are continuing to be vigilant and have put in place plans to deal with any more trouble should it arise.
“It is worth remembering that the violence we have seen on the television is being perpetrated by a minority of people who are out for their own personal gain and to cause trouble. There is no excuse for it and it is totally unacceptable.
“With our partners at Merton Chamber of Commerce, we have been in regular contact with our businesses who have taken the brunt of the violence. They have taken action to protect their premises, knowing that the police are there to support them.”
Borough Commander Chief Superintendent Dick Wolfenden said: “This has been a great example of how public sector organisations can work effectively together to help the local community. Having Merton Council’s buses and their drivers at our disposal has worked incredibly well and has been a huge help to the success of our operations. Business owners and the local community itself continue to play a vital role in bringing an end to the awful scenes we have witnessed across London and in Merton. We still live in one of the safest London boroughs and we will continue to work tirelessly to keep our residents safe.”
Ian Hand, one of the council drivers drafted in for the operation, said: “This was a first for me, but I felt I was part of a great team doing an amazing job. We had to be on stand-by to go at a moment’s notice to wherever the police officers were needed. I feel, along with the rest of the drivers, proud of the part we played in helping the emergency services do their job.”