Covent Garden Safer Neighbourhoods Team’s Sergeant Rob Gauntlett tells In and Around Covent Garden about the work of his team in the area. Rob has worked in Covent Garden for two and a half years and along with the police constables and police community support officers that work with him, his primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of the area for residents, workers, and visitors.
The priorities that the Covent Garden Safer Neighbourhoods Panel has asked the team to focus on are:
THEFT Theft of personal property is a historical issue for Covent Garden. The high number of bars, restaurants and retail outlets in the area are a natural draw for those who wish to engage in petty crime. The highest instances of theft occur through pickpocketing, people putting down their bags, or leaving items in view on a table. In order to combat this the Safer Neighbourhoods Team conduct high visibility patrols around the Piazza and in the surrounding streets. We warn people who are engaged in watching the street performances to be vigilant and look after their personal belongings and if there is a risk in the area we will notify people of it. We also organise weekly property marking where people come to us and have their smartphones, laptops, bikes etc marked to deter would-be thieves. This works as a very effective tool in combating theft and retrieving stolen goods. The dates when you can call in and have your property marked can be found on our website, http://content.met.police.uk/Team/Westminster/CoventGarden
ROUGH SLEEPING AND BEGGING Covent Garden has always attracted a large number of people who have resorted to rough sleeping and begging. It is important to remember however that all those who are homeless do not beg and all those who beg are not necessarily homeless. The Safer Neighbourhoods Team in Covent Garden have an extensive knowledge of, and get on well with, the rough sleeping community in the area. It is not an offence to sleep on the streets and we only get involved if an individual is blocking a fire exit or engaged in anti-social behaviour. The police walk around Covent Garden every morning at 7am and ask those that are sleeping rough if they require anything or if they are going to check into a hostel that day. For the most part those that are rough sleeping in Covent Garden do not cause many problems and in the cases where there is continued anti-social disruption an ASBO can be issued which will ban someone from the area for up to four years.
STREET DRINKING AND ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR Due to the large number of licenced premises in Covent Garden the area requires a lot of management in order to reduce street drinking and anti-social behaviour. Safety issues can arise when the pavements are blocked with people and when people stand in the road while they are drinking. The busiest days for us in this regard are St George’s Day, St Patrick’s Day and Canada Day when extra patrols are put on. Our main priority is ensuring safety and confidence for people who live in, work in, and visit the area. We want everyone to enjoy the area, however, we do maintain a zero-tolerance approach to problematic street drinkers and, if necessary, arrests are made.
It is important to also mention the Olympics and what this will mean for the area. There will be a huge knock-on effect for residents and workers. We want to let people know that we will be doing everything we can to minimise disruption and to maintain a comfortable environment for all. The police will have a high profile and increased presence in Covent Garden during the Games and anti-social behaviour will be dealt with rapidly. Our advice to people new to the area would be to plan your route, know where you are going, only use licenced cabs, and keep personal property off tables and with you at all times. Bags left unattended could create a security alert.
Costas Benopoulos-Jones, chairman of the Covent Garden Safer Neighbourhoods Panel, says “We have to give credit to the police for the effort and work they put into the area, which can often go unnoticed.”
Your Safer Neighbourhoods Team works round the clock to ensure that Covent Garden maintains its reputation as a safe and enjoyable place to live, work, and visit.
The Covent Garden Safer Neighbourhoods Team
Sergeant Robert Gauntlett 2025CW
Constable Ben Clark 2280CW
Constable Neil Gardiner 3335CW
Constable Sharon Donoghue 4317CW
Constable Dee Antoniazzi 2598CW
Constable Dave Earnshaw 2200CW
Constable Will Hodgkinson 2421CW
PCSO Antoine 7268CW
PCSO Newman 7265CW
PCSO Jenkins 7887CW
PCSO Downes 7228CW
PCSO Allen 7327CW
PCSO Janolo 7348CW
Room D228 2nd Floor, Charing Cross Police Station, Agar Street, London WC2N 4JP
Office number: 020 7321 7729 Mobile: 0300 123 1212 Emergency call 999 Non-emergency call 101