The Metropolitan Police’s new commander in Enfield and Haringey says rebuilding trust with communities is key to tackling crime.

Detective Chief Superintendent Caroline Haines says the force needs to “reinforce standards, culture and behaviour” and be “as transparent as possible with our partners and communities” in order to restore confidence in policing.

Figures from City Hall recently revealed trust in the force had dipped to an all-time low, following a string of scandals. In Enfield, just 44% of residents said they thought the Met did a good job in their area – one of the lowest scores in London. In Haringey, the figure was 49%.

DCS Haines became commander of the Met’s north area borough command unit (BCU), which covers Enfield and Haringey, on April 4, following a 27-year policing career that has already seen her work across both boroughs. She says rebuilding trust is one of her key priorities, alongside being “really tough on crime”, particularly “the most serious crimes that matter most to Londoners”.

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Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, DCS Haines said her priorities were to tackle serious violence, including knife crime, robbery, burglary and gang-related offending. Domestic abuse, hate crime and sexual offending will also be key areas of focus.

The police chief added: “Some of those areas will be significant challenges for us because we are being asked to achieve reductions against already low figures for the last performance year.

“Last performance year we achieved the biggest reduction in the Met for robbery – over 50% reduction in robbery on our comparison year. To reduce that even further is going to be slightly more of a challenge.”

To help achieve the targeted reductions, the BCU will use “specialist teams” focusing on the key crime areas backed up by central resources from the Met, which can be deployed into Enfield and Haringey to provide “intelligence mapping of where our problems are and matching that with the right resources to be able to tackle those issues”.

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DCS Haines explained: “Although we are not creating new teams, as such, we are saying our teams need to be able to adapt to changing situations and changing dynamics in terms of our crime profile.”

The other key priority the new borough commander has set for her team is “to keep working to improve trust and confidence in policing”. She added: “We are in a really difficult situation from the point of view of trust and confidence after a number of high-profile, London-wide incidents, and now more than ever we need the trust of our community.”

“I think some of it is around professional standards,” DCS Haines said. “We have a huge need to reinforce professional standards across all our officers. The overwhelming majority of police officers come to work to do a good job and the very best they can.

“What we really need to do is reinforce our standards, culture and behaviour to make sure everybody really understands what is expected of them, to create an environment where they are able to report wrongdoing and we have the right processes in place to deal with those who fall short.

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“One of the things connected to that is that transparency and acknowledgement, because we are putting those processes in place, that there will be instances where officers are found short. But I would say, in this current climate, that is a sign we are creating that environment and culture and identifying those issues early.”

DCS Haines said the force needed to be “as transparent as possible” with communities. To boost transparency, the BCU uses an independent advisory group and a community monitoring group, which holds the force to account on practices such as stop and search.

The police chief said new public encounter panels, which are currently being set up, “will challenge us around matters of interest to them and our communities and give us independent oversight and transparency around the work that we do”.

“I think some of that work in particular is so vital because we know stop and search is such a contentious area,” she added. “It is a really important tool for us, but one that absolutely needs to be used in the right way, and fairly, and doing everything we can to minimise disproportionality and negative outcomes.”

Work with these three groups comes on top of outreach work the Met is doing in schools and with communities to divert young people away from crime, as well as engaging with members of the public who can help with activities such as weapons sweeps.

“The two are interlinked, really,” DCS Haines said. “The more we can engage communities and build back their trust, ideally the more willing they will be to support us in our mission. We are absolutely clear we can’t do it alone, and it does need a joint effort.”

In recent years, dozens of London police stations have been closed to the public, with some sold off and others, such as Enfield Town Police Station, still used by the Met but without front-counter services.

DCS Haines said she understood the “strength of feeling from the public around the closure of police stations” but added that the Met’s analysis of footfall at those police stations “doesn’t support the need to keep those open as previously”.

Instead, the force is encouraging people to report crimes online, and the police chief said this process is becoming easier and more “user friendly”.

Town centre teams, which were introduced by the Met last year, will provide a visible police presence in key crime hotspots, alongside existing safer neighbourhood teams.

DCS Haines also welcomed Enfield Council’s plan to create a law enforcement team of 50 officers to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour. “We are really keen to work together and use the resources in the most effective way we can in those crime areas,” she said.

Earlier this year, a council report revealed that some crime levels across the capital appeared to be returning to numbers last seen before the Covid-19 pandemic, following declines during lockdown periods.

The police chief said that in the year to 31st March, the BCU saw reductions in burglary, robbery, violent crime in particular and knife injury under 25 compared to the 2019/20 pre-pandemic year.

DCS Haines added: “I think where the challenge lies is to try to improve on that, to try to keep it still in reduction compared to a normal year.

“We have some really challenging aspirations. We need to achieve reductions against already most-improved figures in the Met around some of those key things like robbery and firearms discharges and the like. It is a really low benchmark we are comparing ourselves to already.”